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The Western Hemisphere 



Stetson Conn 
Rose C. Engelman 
Byron Fairchild 


Stetson Conn, General Editor 

Oron J. Hale 
University of Virginia 

Advisory Committee 

(As of 25 May 1962) 

Lt. Gen. Louis W. Truman 
U.S. Continental Army Command 

William R, Emerson 
Yale University 

Maj. Gen. James B. Quill 
Industrial College of the Armed Forces 

Earl Pomeroy 

Brig, Gen. Ha 
US. Army- 

? L. Hillyard 

Theodore Ropp 
Duke University 

Brig, Gen, Harry J. Lemley, Jr. 

Command and General Staff College 

Bell I. Wiley 
Emory University 

CoL Vincent J- Esposlto 
United States Military Academy 

C Vann Woodward 

Brig, Gen. 

Chief Historian 
Chief, Histories Division 
Chief, Editorial and Graphics Division 
Editor in Chief 

Col. Louis G. Mendez, Jr. 
Lt. Col. James R, Hillard 



This is the second and final volume in The Western Hemisphere subseries 
of UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. The area covered is 
vast, and so are the topics. The reader will embark upon a long journey and 
become involved in a complex series of events, ranging from guarding inland 
waterways tofighting the Japanese, from rounding up one forlorn German 
on the coast of Greenland to battling German submarines, from conducting 
staff conferences with the Navy to negotiating with His Britannic Majesty's 
ministers, from withstanding the cold of the arctic or the heat of the tropics 
to overcoming the ever-present ennui of soldiers who wait for the stress of 
battle that never comes. 

Guarding the United States and Its Outposts is instructive. Dealing often 
with the twilight between peace and war, it focuses upon problems of im- 
mediate relevance to the Army and the nation today. Then as now the nation 
found itself in a revolution in doctrine, weapons, and methods of defense. 
The way in which men caught in this revolution faced the situation can be 
a guide to those meeting similar circumstances today and in the future. This 
book highlights problems in unified command and contains excellent exam- 
ples of military diplomacy, of how to get along, or fail to get along, with 
other armed forces of the United States and with our Allies. It contains 
authoritative accounts of several highly controversial events, especially the 
Pearl Harbor attack and the evacuation of the United States citizens of 
Japanese descent from the west coast of continental United States. 

Washington, D.C. WILLIAM H. HARRIS 

25 May 1961 Brig. Gen., U.SA. 

Chief of Military History 


The Authors 

Stetson Conn, Chief Historian of the Department of the Army since 1958, 
holds the Ph.D. degree in history from Yale University and has taught history 
at Yale, Amherst College, and The George Washington University. After 
joining the Office of the Chief of Military History in 1946, he served as 
senior editor, as Acting Chief Historian, as Chief of the Western Hemisphere 
Section, and as Deputy Chief Historian before taking over his present post. 
He is coauthor of The Framework of Hemisphere Defense, the first volume 
of this subseries, and his previous publications include Gibraltar in British 
Diplomacy in the Eighteenth Century, a volume in the Yale Historical 
Series, and a chapter in Command Decisions, published in 1959. 

Rose C. Engelman received her Ph.D. degree in history from Cornell 
University and taught at Hunter College before joining the Office of the 
Chief of Military History in 1949. Until 1953 she was a member of the 
Western Hemisphere Section, OCMH. She is now the historian of the 
U.S. Army Mobility Command in Detroit. 

Byron Fairchild, a member of the OCMH staff from 1949 to 1960, re- 
ceived his Ph.D. degree in history from Princeton University and has taught 
at the University of Maine, Amherst College, and the Munson Institute of 
Maritime History. He is the author of Messrs. William Pepperrell, which 
in 1954 received the Carnegie Revolving Fund Award of the American His- 
torical Association for the outstanding manuscript in any field of history. 
Dr. Fairchild is coauthor of The Framework of Hemisphere Defense, and 
The Army and Industrial Manpower in this series, and wrote a chapter in 
the official version of Command Decisions. He is at present a historian in 
the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 



This is the second of two volumes on the plans made and measures 
taken by the Army to protect the United States and the rest of the Western 
Hemisphere against military attack by the Axis Powers during World War 
II. The global character of American participation in the war, described in 
the many volumes of this series, tends to obscure the primary and basic 
concern of the United States Government, and consequently of the Army, 
for the safety of the continental United States. The security of the Panama 
Canal and of the island of Oahu as the principal outposts of continental 
defense was of almost equal concern in the decades between World Wars 
I and II. When in the late 1930^ the action of aggressor nations in the 
Eastern Hemisphere foreshadowed a new world w r ar that would inevitably 
involve the security of the United States, Army and Navy planning officers 
concluded that the continental United States could not be threatened se- 
riously by either air or surface attack unless a hostile power first obtained 
a lodgment elsewhere within the Western Hemisphere. To prevent that 
from happening, the United States adopted a new national policy of hemi- 
sphere defense. 

In the opening chapters of the first volume of this subseries, The Frame- 
work of Hemisphere Defense, the authors have described the evolution of 
the policy of hemisphere defense from 1938 to December 1941, in relation 
to contemporary American military means and the sequence of world events. 
These chapters were designed to introduce the story told in the present 
volume as well as the description of the new military relationships of the 
United States with the other American nations that completes the first vol- 
ume. Consequently, the authors have chosen to use a shortened version of 
the concluding chapter of the first volume as an introductory chapter to 
this one. 

After the introductory chapter this volume describes first the organiza- 
tion of Army forces for the protection of the continental United States before 
and during the war, the steps toward improving continental harbor and air 
defenses, the Army's role in civilian defense and in guarding nonmilitary 
installations, and the measures for continental security and threats to it 


after the Pearl Harbor attack. Because of the controversial character of the 
action, the authors have next included a rather detailed account of the 
evacuation of persons of Japanese ancestry from the west coast, and in 
Chapter VIII a briefer account of the similar action planned for Hawaii. 
This chapter is the last of three that summarize the Army's preparations 
for defending Oahu and its great naval base, the reaction of the Army's 
Hawaiian Department to the threat and then to the reality of war, and the 
measures taken by the Army after the Japanese attack to secure the Hawaiian 
Islands against invasion. In accordance with the chronology of enemy action, 
the narrative turns from Hawaii to Alaska and the Aleutian campaign, the 
only major ground operation to occur within the Western Hemisphere 
during the war. Then it shifts far southeascward to describe the system of 
Army defenses for the protection of the Panama Canal and the Caribbean 
area against enemy intrusion, erected within the framework of military co- 
operation with the Latin American nations described in detail in the first 
volume to this subseries. Because of the nature of the descroyer-base agree- 
ment of 1940 and the Army's focus toward South America, the account of 
the extension of the continental outpost line along the North Atlantic front 
is closely related at the outset to similar activity in the Caribbean area. In 
due course this extension became more intimately related to the preservation 
of the North Atlantic lifeline to Great Britain, and American participation 
in the defense of Iceland in 1941 was a prelude to action in Europe as well 
as a culmination of the defensive measures undertaken by the land and air 
forces of the United States before it became a full participant in World 
War II. 

The events recorded in this volume occurred under circumstances and 
technological conditions that differed greacly from those of the present 
day. On the eve of World War II the concept of collective security, of 
hemisphere defense, had not yet been translated into firm international 
undertakings. The underlying threat was relatively clear-cut. Only if a 
hostile power acquired military bases within the Western Hemisphere could 
the Uniced States be seriously threatened. Today the United States is an 
active member of the United Nations and the military ally of many nations 
in both hemispheres. The range of aircraft has transcended oceanic limita- 
tions, the intercontinental missile is a reality, and the potency of weapons 
has undergone a truly awful change. Nevertheless, the changes and com- 
plexities of the nuclear age have not eliminated, they have only added to 
and underscored, the basic threat and the old problems of national defense. 
The fundamental and necessary concern of the United States for its own 


security remains, and this concern will continue to shape some of the gen- 
eral characteristics of its military defenses and of its military relationships 
with other American nations. 

This is a work of joint authorship and endeavor. The introductory chap- 
ter and the chapters which follow on the continental United States and 
Hawaii are primarily the handiwork of Conn, the first two Alaska chapters, 
of Engelman, and the remaining chapters, of Fairchild. Much of the research 
for the whole volume was undertaken as a common enterprise. In preparing 
this volume the authors have profited immensely from participation in a 
large collaborative history program, in which almost every aspect of the 
Army's activity before and during the war has been under scrutiny. Without 
the free interchange of information and criticism that such a program makes 
possible, the research and writing for this volume would have been much 
more difficult and we would have presented our story with much less con- 

In particular we are indebted to Dr. John Miller, jr., Deputy Chief His- 
torian of the Office of the Chief of Military History, who supervised the 
review of this volume and offered many helpful criticisms of it. The mem- 
bers of the review panel whom he assembled to discuss and criticize the 
volume were Lt. Col. Joseph Rockis, Chief of the Histories Division, and 
Dr. Leo J. Meyer, from within the office; and Professor Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr., 
of The American University, and Dr. Kent Roberts Greenfield, former Chief 
Historian. To all of them we owe acknowledgment for constructive criticism, 
and especially to Dr. Greenfield, under whose immediate supervision this 
work was launched and brought near to completion. Brig. Gen. Paul McD. 
Robinett, former Chief of the Special Studies Division, also reviewed the 
whole volume with his usual thoughtfulness, and we are deeply obliged to 
many outside the Office of the Chief of Military History who have given 
freely of their time and knowledge in reviewing parts of it. Especially help- 
ful comments were obtained from Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt on the west 
coast and Alaska chapters, from Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid on the Attu 
and Kiska operations, and from Maj. Gen. Charles H. Bonesteel and former 
Consul General B. Eric Kuniholm on Army activity in Iceland. For help of 
a different sort, we record our indebtedness to Dr. Herman Kahn, former 
Director of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library, and to members of his 
staff, for access to and friendly guidance into the Presidents papers; and 
to McGeorge Bundy, former professor at Harvard University, for access to 
the diary of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson. 

We wish also to express our appreciation to those members of the Edi- 


torial Branch, headed by the late Miss Ruth Stout, who guided the manu- 
script through the last stage of preparation for the printer — especially to 
Mrs. Marion P. Grimes, whose copy editing was above and beyond the call 
of duty; to Mr. Billy C. Mossman, who prepared the maps; and to Miss 
Ruth Phillips, who selected the photographs. The index was compiled by 
William Gardner Bell. 

These acknowledgments of assistance are in no way delegation of re- 
sponsibility for the contents of the volume. The presentation and interpreta- 
tion of events it contains are the authors' own, and we alone are responsible 
for faults of commission or omission. 

Washington, D.C. STETSON CONN 

24 May 1962 ROSE C. ENGELMAN 




Chapter Page 



Peacetime and Planned Wartime Organization 17 

Reorganization, July 1940-December 1941 22 

The Wartime Organization 33 


Harbor Defenses 45 

Air Defense Preparations 54 

The Army and Civilian Defense 64 

Guarding Nonmilitary Installations 73 



Defense Measures on the West Coast, 1941-42 82 

Defense Measures on the East and Gulf Coasts, 1941-42 94 

Guarding the Sault Ste. Marie Canal 102 

The Period of Reduction, 1942-45 105 


The Background of Evacuation Planning 116 

The Decision for Mass Evacuation 127 

The Evacuation of the Japanese 137 


The Hawaiian Department Before 1941 150 

Defense Preparations During 194l 161 


Chapter Page 


The Approach to War 175 

The Plait and Launching of the Attack 184 

The Attack and the Response 187 

Investigation and Judgment 194 


The Impact of War 199 

The Question of Japanese Evacuation 206 

Reinforcement 214 

Midway 219 


Initial Army Plans and Preparations 224 

The Alaska Defense Command 230 

Making Ready To Defend the Navy's Bases 232 

The Air Defense Problems 239 

Airfields } Radar, and the Construction Program 244 

Reinforcing the Air Defenses 247 

On the Alert 250 

X. ALASKA IN THE WAR, 1942 253 

Reinforcement 255 

The Attack on the Aleutians 257 

The Army's Reaction 263 

Command Problems 266 

Aid to the Soviet Union 268 

The Advance Westward 270 


Attu Retaken 279 

Kiska — Grand Anticlimax 295 


The Prewar Defenses 301 

Emergency Measures } August 1939-January 1940 310 

Reorganization and Expansion 314 

The Puerto Rican Outpost, 1939-40 322 

The Alert of Ju?7e 1940 327 


Chapter Page 


Organizing the Caribbean Theater 329 

The Alert of July 1941 335 

The Outposts in the Dutch West Indies 337 

Securing the Pacific Approaches 339 

Expansion in the Republic of Panama 344 

Strength and Readiness of the Defenses, 19 4l 348 

Naval Factors in Area Defense 351 


The Local Setting 355 

Planning the Garrisons 358 

Negotiating the Base Agreement 366 

Launching the Construction Program 375 


The Garrisons and Their Mission 384 

Problems of Organization and Command 392 

Early Administrative Problems 397 


The First Effects of War 409 

Shaping the Local Commands 41 6 

The First Blow 423 

The Watch on the Canal 424 

The War Against the U-Boat 429 

Passing the Peak 436 


Growth of American Interest in Greenland . 443 

Greenland 's Strategic Importance Reappraised 447 

Establishing the BLUI.E Bases 451 

The Defense of Greenland 455 


The Shifting Focus of American Interest 461 

The President's Decision and the War Department' s Response 466 

Problems f Remote and Immediate 468 

INDIGO Planning, First Phase 472 

A New Decision: Reinforcement, Not Relief 479 

The First American Forces Land in Iceland 481 

INDIGO Planning, Second Phase 484 

A Backward Glance at the INDIGO Planning 491 


Chapter Page 


The Movement of the Second Echelon, Task Force 4 495 

Problems of Defense: Ground and Air 498 

Problems of Administration and Human Relations 507 

The Question of Reinforcements and Relief 520 

A New Role 527 

Basic Considerations for Determining the Post-Pearl Harbor 

Course of Action 530 


The Build-up 533 

The Command Problem 539 

Operations Against the Enemy 548 



INDEX 569 



1. Recommended and Approved Strengths for Atlantic Bases, 1940-41 360 

2. Estimated Cost of Army and Air Bases, 1940 376 

3. Estimated Cost of Army and Air Bases, 1941 377 

4. Actual Cost of Army and Air Bases 378 

5. Shipping Losses in the Caribbean Area, January 1942-July 1944 431 


I. Organization Approved 3 May 1941 332 


I. Continental Defense Organization, 20 May 1942 facing 39 

II. Oahu Island facing 151 

III. The Capture of Attu, 7th Infantry Division, 11-30 May 1943 facing 281 

IV. Iceland facing 499 




Lt. Gen. Hugh A. Drum 19 

Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt 21 

Six- Inch Gun Emplacement on Jasper Parapet 53 

Mayor La Guardia in Action During Practice Alert 69 

Camouflaged Airplane Factory 90 

Infantrymen on Beach Patrol 100 

Japanese Free Balloon 112 

Japanese Evacuees Arrive at the Colorado River Relocation Center 142 

Troop Maneuvers in Hawaii 162 

Wheeler Field After the Bombing 190 

Japanese Children Drilling 213 

View of Dutch Harbor 233 

Naval Base at Kodiak 251 

Construction on Adak 271 

Attu Landings 286 

Early Radar Installation 313 

Panama Airfields 318 

Antiaircraft Defenses of the Panama Canal 347 

U.S. Army Installations in the Bermuda Islands 380 

The Edmund B. Alexander 386 

First Troops in Trinidad 398 

Installations in Newfoundland 399 

Optical Height Finder Mounted on Old El Morro Fortress 425 

Torpedoed Vessel Being Towed Into San Juan Harbor 432 

Coast Guard Tug Aiding Freighter Off Greenland 446 

Abandoned German Equipment in Greenland 450 

Temporary Supply Dump in Reykjavik 482 

Maj. Gen. Charles H. Bonesteel 491 

Gale in Iceland 497 

Army Posts in Iceland 518 

U.S. Army Troops Arriving in Reykjavik, January 1942 525 

Section of a Greenland Airfield, 1943 540 

American Fighter Planes Over Camp Artun, Iceland 550 

German Prisoners Under Guard in Greenland 551 

All but three of the illustrations are from Department of Defense files. The photo- 
graph on page 69 is used by courtesy of the New York Daily News. The two photo-" 
graphs on page 90 were furnished by The Boeing Company. 




The Framework 
of Hemisphere Defense 

Before it entered World War II, the United States committed itself to 
defend the entire land area of the Western Hemisphere against military 
attack from the Old World. 1 In the course of planning for this purpose, the 
United States Government defined the hemisphere as including all of the 
land masses of North and South America plus Greenland, Bermuda, and 
the Falklands (but not Iceland or the Azores) in the Atlantic area, and all 
islands east of the 180th meridian and all of the Aleutians in the Pacific. 
The armed power of the United States did not prevent minor enemy in- 
vasions of New World territory, as the Germans in Greenland and the 
Japanese in the Aleutians were to demonstrate. But its forces were strong 
enough by late 1941 to make a sustained attack on the hemisphere an un- 
profitable venture for hostile powers. 

The commitment to defend the whole hemisphere by force was a new 
departure in the military policy of the United States, although it was a 
natural outgrowth of American policy and practice under the Monroe 
Doctrine. It was also a natural extension of the primary mission of the 
armed forces — defense of the homeland. For more than a century the pos- 
sibility of a serious attack across continental land frontiers had been exceed- 
ingly remote, and until the late 1930's an effective attack by land-based air 
power was impracticable. Therefore, the Army had concentrated after 
World War I on protecting the continental United States against attack by 
sea and against coastal invasion backed by sea power. It was almost equally 
concerned with the defense of the Panama Canal Zone and Oahu, as the 
principal outlying bastions for continental defense. 

1 This introductory chapter is a somewhat shortened version of the concluding chapter of the 
companion volume of this subseries, Stetson Conn and Byron Fairchild, The framework of Hemi- 
sphere Defense, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, i960). It is 
included here to provide a broader setting for the account that follows of the specific plans and 
measures for defending the continental United States and its outposts during World War II. 



By the late 1930*5 a rapid increase in the range and striking power of 
military aircraft introduced a new and potentially serious threat to New 
World security, a development that^ coincided with the rise of Adolf Hitler 
and the secret and formidable preparation of the German nation for war. 
It was this coincidence that gave birth to the policy of hemisphere defense 
after Hitler made clear his power and his warlike intent during the Munich 
crisis of September 1938. The United States decided that as soon as possible 
it had to have the means to forestall the establishment of any hostile air base 
or other military installation on Western Hemisphere territory from which 
its continental area or the Panama Canal could be threatened or attacked. 
To prevent the establishment of enemy bases remained the essence of hemi- 
sphere defense during the prewar period of American military preparation 
from late 1938 to December 1941. 

Whatever the United States did for hemisphere defense, it did primarily 
to safeguard its own national security and interests. As a senior general put 
it, "In the formulation of all these plans, the vital interests of the United 
States must be uppermost in our minds." 2 The over-all purpose of the new 
policy, an Army planner noted, was to "deny an enemy bases from which 
he might launch military operations against any of the democratic nations of 
this hemisphere"; but its basic design was "to reduce to a minimum the like- 
lihood of accepting war upon our own territory." 3 All of the measures 
planned and taken in the name of hemisphere defense, including those taken 
during 1941 for the salvation of Great Britain and the British lifeline across 
the North Atlantic, had the fundamental objective of promoting the se- 
curity of the United States itself. 

The basic threat to national security, as conceived by President Franklin 
D. Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull from late 1937 onward, 
was the increasing probability that Germany in combination with Japan 
might achieve domination over the land masses of the Eastern Hemisphere, 
wreck the British Commonwealth of Nations, and eventually and almost 
inevitably threaten the Western Hemisphere with military attack and con- 
quest. The Munich "settlement" gave reality to this specter. Na2i Germany 
acquired a superior military position for launching an offensive war, and the 
League of Nations henceforth became completely ineffectual as an instru- 
ment for preventing a general war in the Eastern Hemisphere. The amoral 
leadership of Hitler together with the tremendous lead of Germany over 

2 Memo, CG Third Army for WPD, 8 June 40, WPD 4175-11. 

3 Memo for Red, Lt Col Jonathan W. Anderson, WPD 4175-2. 



the democratic nations in rearmament made it appear probable by early 
1939 that Germany would soon launch an offensive war of unpredictable 

On the other side of Eurasia, Japan had been engaged since 1937 in the 
conquest of China, and increasingly the Japanese Government was succumb- 
ing to the control of war lords who aimed at Japanese domination of all 
East Asia and Indonesia. Between 1938 and 1941 these developments made 
for a constant and serious threat of war between Japan and the United 
States, though not for a serious Japanese threat to territory in the Western 
Hemisphere. During the prewar period Army planners believed it in the 
realm of possibility only that Japan could establish bases in the Aleutians 
or western Alaska, in outer islands of the Hawaiian group, or in islands 
southwest of Hawaii and east of the 180th meridian. That Japanese aircraft 
carriers might launch hit-and-run attacks on Hawaii or Panama they con- 
sidered a more likely possibility. Since the United States after 1937 kept the 
bulk of its naval strength in the Pacific, the Army and the government gen- 
erally tended to discount these dangers, and hemisphere defense came to 
mean very largely Atlantic defense against the menace of Nazi Germany. 

President Roosevelt and the military planners foresaw in 1939 that the 
greatest danger to the United States and to the rest of the hemisphere would 
be the defeat of France and Great Britain with the surrender or destruction 
of their naval power. Widespread German influence in Latin America, much 
of it clandestine and subversive in intent, constituted a more nebulous danger 
but a serious weakness in the American position. The smashing German 
victories of 1939 and 1940 naturally bolstered this influence. After France's 
defeat in June 1940, the Germans planned two specific operations which, if 
successfully carried out, would have required much more vigorous measures 
than were actually put into effect. The Germans planned to invade Great 
Britain and to sweep through Spain in order to capture Gibraltar and North- 
west Africa. Hitler's decision to postpone these operations until he had con- 
quered the Soviet Union greatly eased the Atlantic situation in 1941, but 
did not dissipate American concern for hemisphere defense until Germany 
lost its ability to shift its major war effort from east to west in 1942. The 
German threat that had most to do with drawing the United States into 
World War II was the air and sea attack on Great Britain and its North 
Atlantic lifeline, which in 1941 shifted the military focus of the United 
States toward the northeast and into the Battle of the Atlantic. 

In defense planning, after World War II began in September 1939, the 
United States assumed that Hitler had embarked on a calculated scheme of 



world conquest; and in 1941 it assumed that Germany and Japan were acting 
in close military concert. These were the safe and proper assumptions for 
military planning. Actually, the Germans and Japanese became associates 
rather than partners in conquest and did not act in close military concert 
either before or after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. What- 
ever schemes for world conquest Hitler may have had in mind, he never 
spelled out more than Old World domination (except in what he construed 
as Japan's proper sphere) and appropriate revenge against the United States 
for supporting his enemies by such tactics as a bombardment of New York 
City. Known Japanese plans for conquest were also limited to the Eastern 
Hemisphere, but unlike Hitler the Japanese, in furtherance of their plans, 
felt ready in 1941 to challenge the military power of the United States. After 
the Japanese unleashed their attack, and notwithstanding its unanticipated 
scope and violence, the United States Government decided that Hitler and 
German military superiority still posed the greater danger to the national 
security and to the whole Western way of life, and it reaffirmed the decision 
made in early 1941 that if the nation were drawn into the war it should 
strive to defeat Germany first. 4 

The seriousness of the German threat in 1940 led the United States, for 
the first time in its history, to seek and enter into close military relations 
with most of the other Western Hemisphere nations. Generally, the other 
American nations were as aware as the United States of the Nazi menace to 
democracy, and Canada had almost immediately joined with Great Britain 
in the war. Inter-American solidarity in World War I furnished some prece- 
dents for wartime collaboration, but not for the military staff agreements 
and defense boards of World War II, or for the extensive deployment of 
United States forces throughout the hemisphere that occurred between 1939 
and 1945. In view of the preponderant strength of the United States and its 
very recent abandonment of intervention, the other American nations en- 
tered into these military ties with an understandable concern for their own 
national sovereignty and interests. 

Military relations with Canada differed from those with the Latin Amer- 
ican nations, not only because Canada became a belligerent in September 
1939 but also because Canada had not participated in the earlier Pan Amer- 
ican gatherings that formulated the basic principles for association with the 
nations to the south. The close military contacts that developed with Canada 

4 See Louis Morton, "Germany First: The Basic Concept of Allied Strategy in World War II," 
Study 1 in Department of the Army, Command Decisions (Washington, i960). 



in 1940 and 1941 were also tied in with the growing military intimacy of 
the United States and Great Britain. Thus the Permanent Joint Board on 
Defense, Canada-United States, was an immediate outgrowth of the de- 
stroyer-base negotiation with the British in August 1940, and joint war plan 
ABC-22 with Canada was based in large measure on the strategy developed 
jointly in the Anglo-American staff conversations of early 1941. On the other 
hand, the prewar and wartime association of the United States arid Canada 
naturally reflected the tradition of the long-unguarded frontier, the eco- 
nomic and demographic intimacy of the two nations, and the precedent of 
joint boards and commissions created for various purposes during the pre- 
ceding decades of the twentieth century. 5 

In the area of Latin America, the key to fulfillment of measures for 
defense was the success of the United States both before and after Pearl 
Harbor in staying within the bounds of its prewar political commitments, 
which collectively comprised the Good Neighbor policy. By 1938 national 
policy was against further territorial expansion in the New World, and the 
United States had ceased its political and military interventions in certain 
Caribbean countries and foresworn intervention for any purpose in any 
American nation. In general the United States had also committed itself 
not to 'play favorites" among the American nations. On the other hand, 
to have any reality, hemisphere defense required the availability of existing 
or the development of new military bases. In its military planning the United 
States therefore assumed that when necessary its forces could use existing 
military bases and essential supporting facilities in other American nations 
and in colonial territories of the European powers. Until Pearl Harbor the 
United States as a matter of policy avoided either the lease or outright acqui- 
sition of new base sites in other American nations, and at least in theory 
avoided exclusive acquisition and use of new bases anywhere in the hemi- 
sphere except within its own territory. After Pearl Harbor it carefully 
avoided any use of military bases that could fairly be construed as an in- 
fringement on the sovereignty of other New World nations. 

A fundamental of the policy and defense plans of the United States has 
been that potential Old World enemies must not obtain control over any 
territory in the Western Hemisphere, either by force or by negotiation. 
In Army usage before and during World War II the Monroe Doctrine 
meant just that and nothing more. Germany's victory in the west in 1940 

5 Stanley W. Dziuban, Military Relations Between the United States and Canada, 1 939-1945, 
UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1959), contains the fullest de- 
scription of the prewar and wartime association of the two nations. 



naturally made this a problem of great moment, and the United States pre- 
pared to take any necessary steps to prevent British, French, Dutch, and 
Danish possessions from falling into German hands or under German con- 
trol. To avoid any pretext for military attack, the United States also opposed 
the defense of French, Dutch, and Danish possessions by friendly belliger- 
ents, and insisted that these lands should be defended as necessary by United 
States or Latin American forces. After the destroyer-base exchange" the 
United States also assumed a major share of the responsibility for defend- 
ing British North Atlantic and Caribbean territories. 

As for the territory of the Latin American nations, the United States 
pledged itself in military staff agreements negotiated in 1940 to employ its 
forces to assist in defeating any external attack by the armed forces of a 
non-American state or internal attack supported by a non-American state, 
if the recognized government of the nation concerned asked for such assist- 
ance. While the larger Latin nations had sizable military establishments, 
these were not equipped or trained to meet an Old World enemy force in 
strength. Nor did the United States have the means to help equip and train 
their forces sufficiently or in time to handle major threats from abroad. 
Therefore, prewar plans for hemisphere defense had to assume that United 
States forces would be required to defend the Latin American area against 
major overseas attacks. The large movement of trained Canadian forces to 
Great Britain made a similar assumption necessary for the northern reaches 
of the hemisphere. Acting on these assumptions, the United States in military 
negotiations with other American nations before Pearl Harbor had as its 
main objectives obtaining assured access to existing military base facilities, 
and receiving warning of impending enemy attacks in time to allow United 
States forces to reach threatened areas. 

The leaders of the United States Army realized during the prewar years 
that even under the most auspicious circumstances the Army was ill prepared 
for any large-scale operations. With only a nucleus of trained and equipped 
troops, the Army undertook in 1940 to develop a large strategic reserve of 
units that for the most part would not be ready for even limited action before 
late 1941. Given this situation Army planning continued to be dominated 
by the idea of maintaining a perimeter defense of the citadel, the conti- 
nental United States. Until 1939 the defense perimeter followed the con- 
tinental shore line and was supported by strong but distant outposts in 
Panama and Hawaii. With military expansion and in accordance with the 
new policy of hemisphere defense, the defensive perimeter was extended 
from the citadel. By mid-1941 it included Greenland, Newfoundland, Ber- 



muda, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad along the Atlantic front and Alaska and 
Oahu and the Canal Zone along the Pacific. Army planners wanted to pro- 
ject the perimeter southward to include the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific 
and the eastern tip of Brazil in the Atlantic. They believed that with this 
further extension the perimeter could be held by a minimum number of 
combat forces and that no enemy could establish a base for major opera- 
tions in the Western Hemisphere without first capturing one or more strong- 
points in the perimeter. 

As long as the United States Navy kept the bulk of its fleet in the eastern 
Pacific, neither Japan nor any other nation had the capability of establishing 
a hostile base from which to launch a major operation against the hemi- 
sphere's Pacific front, and Nazi Germany with all of its military might could 
not act similarly in the northern Atlantic as long as the British Fleet was in 
being and based on the British Isles. In October 1940 the Chief of Staff, 
General George C. Marshall, described the naval aspects of hemisphere de- 
fense as "fundamental/' and said: "As long as the British fleet remains un- 
defeated and England holds out, the Western Hemisphere is in little danger 
of direct attack." But, he added, "the situation would become radically 
changed" if the British Fleet were sunk or surrendered. 6 

If Britain fell and the British Fleet were lost, it was more than conceiv- 
able that the hemisphere might be invaded from the northeast via New- 
foundland and the St. Lawrence estuary. This was the threat that aroused 
the interest of President Roosevelt in acquiring bases for United States forces 
in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland; it was a matter discussed at the first 
meeting of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense, Canada-United States; 
and it remained a threat covered by Army expeditionary force plans in 1940 
and 1941. 

Partly because both British and American naval power was stationed so 
far away, the Army was most concerned during the prewar period with the 
situation in the Caribbean area and in eastern South America. The Caribbean 
Sea and the Gulf of Mexico were the Atlantic approaches to the Panama 
Canal, and also to the "soft underbelly" of the United States itself — its 
unprotected Gulf coast. Furthermore, two prime strategic materials — oil 
and bauxite — originated around these seas and traveled through them. 
After June 1940 the presence in this area of French colonies loyal to the 
Vichy Government added to the Army's concern. 

In South America the bulge of Brazil, closer to Africa than to the nearest 

fi Resume of conversation between Gen Marshall and Gen Nicolas Delgado, CofS Paraguayan 
Army, 31 Oct 40, WPD 4385-1. 



of the Antilles, was the one point in the hemisphere vulnerable to large- 
scale air attack or invasion. Northeast Brazil was undefended, inaccessible 
to existing Brazilian Army forces, and beyond the range of United States 
air power based in the Caribbean area. Even if Britain survived, it seemed 
to Army planners that this position must be defended by United States forces 
if German forces moved into western Africa. Furthermore, they held, the 
effective defense of this one position would ensure the whole southern 
Atlantic front against external attack and reassure all of the Latin American 
nations against any serious threat from abroad. It was in order to make this 
position defensible that the Army arranged with Pan American Airways to 
construct two chains of airfields leading from the United States to eastern 
Brazil. But it could not persuade the Brazilians to request United States 
Army defenders for the area. 

Germany's smashing victories in western Europe in the spring of 1940 
had the immediate effect of re-emphasizing hemisphere defense as the basic 
military policy of the United States. On 23 May President Roosevelt and his 
principal advisers decided that the nation must avoid war with Japan and 
concentrate on what they called the "South American situation." Eastern 
Brazil was the most immediate cause for anxiety, and during the following 
weekend the President and the Army and Navy engaged in hurried planning 
for a possible expeditionary force to that area. Actually, the services were 
then unready to carry out any such plan, but they quickly prepared a more 
comprehensive one for defending the hemisphere on all fronts. This plan, 
Rainbow 4, remained the basic guide for American military action until 
the spring of 1941. In June 1940, after France fell, the President and his 
principal military advisers confirmed their determination to avoid war or 
offensive action in the Pacific, ruled out intervention in the European war, 
and decided that the nation must concentrate on mobilizing its manpower 
and economic strength for hemisphere defense. Underlying these decisions 
was a grave doubt that Great Britain could survive through 1940. 

The first breach in the June decisions on national strategy was the agree- 
ment with Great Britain to exchange destroyers for bases, concluded on 2 
September. During September Army and Navy leaders as well as the Pres- 
ident acquired a conviction that Great Britain could hold out at least six 
months more, and that even if the British Fleet was surrendered in the spring 
of 1941 it would take the Germans six additional months to make it useful. 
Therefore, Germany could not launch a major attack across the Atlantic 
before the autumn of 1941, and by then the United States expected to have 
a trained and equipped army of 1,400,000 men as well as greater naval 



strength. While eventually Germany might muster the strength to challenge 
the United States, a transatlantic invasion of the hemisphere by German 
forces within the next two or three years appeared improbable, even if 
co-ordinated with a Japanese offensive in the Pacific. With the bounds of 
neutrality already broken by the destroyer-base exchange, and with a much 
more optimistic outlook than in June, the United States Government from 
September onward charted a new course of much greater aid to Great Britain. 
Eventually and inevitably this new course disrupted plans for a perimeter 
defense of the hemisphere, as plotted in Rainbow 4. 

While Germany stayed its military hand in the autumn and winter of 
1940, the United States reached new decisions on national policy. These 
reaffirmed a defensive posture in the Pacific and concentration on the At- 
lantic and European situations. But the new policy went much further: it 
assumed the salvation of Great Britain and the British Fleet, and it con- 
templated American entry into the European war to defeat Germany. By 
December 1940 the civilian and military leaders of the War and Navy 
Departments were convinced that the United States must eventually enter 
the war against Germany to save itself, and that to save itself it had to save 
Great Britain. They also agreed that the eventual "big act" in getting into 
the war would be the one undertaken by United States forces to help pro- 
tect the North Atlantic seaway to Great Britain. 7 President; Roosevelt 
matched these convictions with his conception of lend-lease. In effect, the 
new orientation of national policy made Great Britain the pivot of measures 
for defending the nation and the hemisphere during 1941. It also brought 
the United States Navy into the midst of Atlantic action. 

Although the Army was the more active service in preparations for 
continental and hemisphere defense before 1941, it had actually been play- 
ing a secondary role behind a first-line screen of naval power. The Navy 
much more than the Army kept its eyes on the Pacific, where its main strength 
lay and where it assumed its main task would be if war came. Nevertheless, 
as the Army recognized, throughout the prewar years the Navy in conjunc- 
tion with British naval power was carrying out its primary mission of provid- 
ing the nation with a first line of defense at a distance. Army leaders were 
also well aware during these years that only the Navy had a force in being 
ready for war. 

After September 1939 the principal task of the Navy in the immediate 
defense of the hemisphere was to maintain a neutrality patrol in Atlantic 

7 Diary of Henry L. Stimson, entry of 16 Dec 40, examined at Sterling Memorial Library, Yale 



waters to persuade belligerent warships, and especially German vessels, to 
keep away from American shores. The Navy gradually extended this patrol: 
outward into the Atlantic, and the destroyer exchange, though temporarily 
weakening the patrol, provided new and improved bases for supporting its 
operations. Then, in January 1941, President Roosevelt authorized the Navy 
to prepare for the larger role in the Atlantic of helping to escort American 
aid to Britain. While the Navy was getting ready for this task, the United 
States and Great Britain agreed in staff conversations on the course of action 
they w r ould follow if the United States entered the war, and Congress passed 
the Lend-Lease Act. But when the Navy in April came up with a forthright 
escort scheme in its Western Hemisphere Defense Plan No. 1, President 
Roosevelt after some indecision ordered a more circumscribed line of action 
that confined American naval operations to the western half of the Atlantic 
and to measures short of escort duty. Even so, it seemed to Army and Navy 
leaders in the spring of 1941 that the nation was on the brink of open war. 

Germany's attack on the Soviet Union in June helped to postpone w r ar in 
the Atlantic and to precipitate it in the Pacific. Intelligence of the impend- 
ing German thrust eastward was one of the factors influencing the decision 
of President Roosevelt to send American troops to Iceland, and their arrival 
furnished a justification for escort operations by the United States Navy to 
the longitude of Iceland. Then in September and October came the "shooting 
war" and more open naval collaboration with Great Britain under the Navy's 
Western Hemisphere Defense Plan No. 5. 

Whether these successive Navy plans of 1941 were really measures for 
hemisphere defense was a bone of contention for isolationists then as it has 
been for some of Mr. Roosevelt's critics since. Granted that the broadening 
military operations of the United States in the North Atlantic were steps 
toward the defeat of Hitler's Germany, they were also genuine and effective 
defense measures, and their dual purpose should be recognized. Certainly 
under these plans and the associated plans of the Army the United States 
took its most effective action for Atlantic and hemisphere defense during 1941. 

The Army played only a secondary role in the vigorous measures of mid 
and late 1941 for saving Great Britain and its North Atlantic lifeline. 
Execution of these measures meant that the Army could not carry out other 
plans for defense in the areas for which it had previously felt so much con- 
cern, the Caribbean and South America. On the other hand, with the North 
Atlantic increasingly secured and the Germans heavily engaged in the Soviet 
Union, new Army defense steps to the south had less urgency than before 
mid-1941. Thereafter the Army tried to keep the number of combat troops 



sent into the Caribbean area to a bare minimum, and, beyond the Caribbean, 
it wished only to establish an air reconnaissance base southwest of Panama 
and send minimum defense forces to the eastern bulge of Brazil. 

The position of President Roosevelt toward hemisphere defense after 
the spring of 1940 is somewhat difficult to determine from his addresses and 
other remarks. As a rule, his intimate conversations with advisers were not 
recorded. From his known remarks and actions it is apparent that after the 
summer of 1940 Mr. Roosevelt did not feel any acute concern about the 
possibility of a major military attack on the hemisphere for several years to 
come. There is no question about the President's detestation of Hitler and 
the Nazis, nor about his appreciation of how great the threat to the United 
States would be if Germany secured a dominating position in the Eastern 
Hemisphere. Nor is there any question about Mr. Roosevelt's determination 
to use all courses of action that American public opinion would support to 
stop Hitler. 

One of these courses was an appeal to the traditional American doctrine 
of freedom of the seas. As early as October 1940, the President and Secretary 
of State Hull had emphasized in public addresses how essential friendly con- 
trol of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans was to hemisphere defense. In Janu- 
ary 1 94 1 the President began to stress freedom of the seas rather than hemi- 
sphere defense as a rallying ground for military preparedness. He also took 
the position that there should be no "aggressors" peace. Furthermore, he 
believed that saving Great Britain alone was not enough, because the strength 
and security of Britain depended upon the continued support of the rest of 
the British Empire and its sea communications everywhere. In one of his 
most revealing utterances the President wrote: 

A nationally known advertising man wrote me the other day ... to suggest that we 
tell the truth, i.e., that we are not concerned with the affairs of the British Empire but 
are concerned with our own safety, the security of our own trade, the future of our own 
crops, the integrity of our own continent, and the lives of our own children in the next 

That, I think, is a pretty good line to take because it happens to be true and it is 
on that line itself that we must, for all the above purely selfish reasons, prevent at 
almost any hazard the Axis domination of the world. 8 

The President's expressed goals clearly called for a larger effort in 1941 
than the nation needed to make for the immediate defense of the hemisphere. 
They also called for a different sort of effort from that which Army planners 

8 Pers Ltr, President Roosevelt to Senator Josiah W. Bailey, 13 May 41, in F D.R.; Hh Personal 
Letters, 1928-1945. edited by Elliott Roosevelt (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1950), II, 


advocated, as illustrated in discussions about Iceland and the Azores. From 
the planners' viewpoint it was not necessary nor even desirable to garrison 
either as a military outpost for the hemisphere ; from the President's point 
of view, both were essential guardians of Atlantic seaways, which had to be 
controlled to save Britain, and he was convinced that Britain's salvation was 
an essential to hemisphere and national security. 

Until late 1941 the President was apparently more reluctant about get- 
ting into the war than were some of his principal advisers. He kept his ears 
tuned sensitively to American public opinion and opinion polls, and to judge 
from the public opinion polls Mr. Roosevelt never let the actions of the 
United States get very far out of step with the opinion of rhe majority of 
its people. Several of the President's advisers thought that he lagged behind 
the majority; and perhaps there was much truth in the remark of a distin- 
guished English observer who wrote him: "I have been so struck by the way 
you have led public opinion by allowing it to get ahead of you/ 1 American 
opinion remained heavily opposed to any declaration of war until the attack 
on Pearl Harbor. But in 1^40 and 1941 a majority indorsed every action taken 
in the name of hemisphere defense or freedom of the seas, including the 
support of Great Britain and military operations in the North Atlantic, 
The public also approved the action, urged by rhe President and taken by 
Congress on 13 November 1941, repealing prohibitions against arming 
American merchant ships and against allowing them to enter war zones. 
By that action Congress ended the apparent ambiguity and undercover char- 
acter of Atlantic operations during the preceding months of 194 1 and set 
the stage fox war with Germany. 

Then, before a full state of war could develop in the Atlantic, Japan 
struck in the Pacific. The Japanese Government wanted to convert the na- 
tions and colonial areas of eastern Asia and Indonesia into subservient tribu- 
taries of Japan, and the war in Europe seemed to provide a golden oppor- 
tunity for conquest. The Japanese might have been willing to create their 
so-called Greater East Asia Co- Prosperity Sphere by negotiation, but they 
were not willing to limit their objective. When Great Britain and the United 
States and the other nations involved decided not to capitulate, Japan cast 
the die for war. 

Until the summer of 1941 new Army measures for defense in the Pacific 
lagged behind Atlantic pteparations. Secretary of War Henry L, Stimson 
among others did not believe that Japan would go to war as long as Britain 
remained undefeated. Alarms in January and July 1941 produced some 
strengthening of Oahus Army air defenses and a more rapid garrisoning of 

9 Per* Itr, * Juci 41, Roosevelt Papers, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park. R Y. 



Alaska. Since the Army's primary mission in Alaska, Hawaii, and Panama 
was the guarding of naval bases and installations, the Navy had the chief 
voice in determining where Army Pacific reinforcements should go until 
August 1 941. Then, under the impulse of a new design to contain Japan by 
air power, die reinforcement of the Philippines instead of hemisphere out- 
posts became the goal. As a result some of Hawaii's newly acquired air 
strength was shifted to the Far East, and the movement of modern aircraft 
to Alaska was further postponed. The decision to reinforce the Philippines 
broke through the perimeter concept in the Pacific as the defense of Iceland 
and Great Britain had broken through it in the Atlantic. The Japanese 
attacked just as this reinforcement was getting under way. 

A glance at the distribution of troops in mid-1942 shows that in the first 
few months after Pearl Harbor continental and hemisphere defense plans 
concinued to provide the main guides to the actual deployment of Army 
ground and air forces, despite a large movement of forces to the Southwest 
Pacific and smaller movements to the British Isles and Iceland. At the begin- 
ning of July 1942, when the Army had about 800,000 officers and men as- 
signed to active theaters and defense commands, Western Hemisphere gar- 
risons and commands contained about three-fourths of this strength, divided 
about equally between defense commands in the continental United States 
and overseas outposts within the hemisphere. In other words, the Army did 
not begin to move the bulk of its ready forces across the oceans until after 
the nation and its outposts were reasonably secure. After 1942 the principal 
task of Army defenders within the hemisphere was to guard outposts that 
now became bases for the support of overseas offensives. 10 

The focus of Army planning had begun to shift from hemisphere defense 
to future operations outside the hemisphere long before, in late 1940 and 
early 1941. During 1941 military men moved somewhat more slowly than 
political leaders toward the new strategy, partly because the former were 
more aware than the latter of minimum defense needs and partly because 
military leaders were painfully aware of the unreadiness of most of the 
Army until late 1941 for offensive action. Indeed there was a remarkable 
coincidence between the Army's readiness for limited offensive action and 
the outbreak of full-scale war. Enough forces were ready in December 1941 
so that Army planning and action could turn quickly and naturally to launch- 
ing operations overseas that would obviate the need for hemisphere defense 
at home. 

10 For graphic presentations of the distribution of Army forces among tactical commands in 
late 1941 and 1942, see charts 1, 2, and 3 in Maurice Matloff and Edwin M. Snell, Strategic 
Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1941-1942, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II 
(Washington, 1953) (hereafter referred to as Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941-42). 


The Command of 
Continental Defense Forces 

As die United States Army began its rapid expansion in the lare summer 
of 1940 for the eventuality of war, it had a command organization far better 
adapted to the control of peacetime than of wartime operations. For many 
years the War Department had foreseen that this organization would have 
to be changed whenever a major war threatened, and it had planned accord- 
ingly. The plans for transforming the command system to a wartime basis 
were in fact partially carried out during the year and a half preceding the 
formal entry of the Uniced States into World War II and immediately there- 
after. They could not be carried out in full because the circumstances of 
American involvement in the war and the problems of defense during the 
initial mobilization of forces differed from those that had been assumed, 
Instead of beginning its mobilization on a relatively fixed M-day to deal 
with a clearly defined war situation, the Army spread its prewar expansion 
over many mondis during which the war outlook underwent continuous 
change. Even without these factors, the earlier plans for wartime organiza- 
tion would have required some modification because of the changed char- 
acter and increasing complexities of warfare and therefore of the nature of 
the dangers that war would bring to the United States, 

In planning for the command of active operations, the Army tried to 
adhere to certain basic strategic and organizational principles. It wanted to 
avoid dispersing its forces in a weak cordon defense of the frontier, whether 
of the continental United States or of the Western Hemisphere. Instead, it 
planned to group the bulk of Army ground and air forces in a mobile reserve 
within the continental United States. The vety large expansion of the Army 
decided upon in the summer of 1940 required a tremendous training effort, 
and it was the Army's policy to meet current tactical needs with the least pos- 
sible interference to the training program. In reorganizing its command 
structure, the Atmy tried to conform to the principle that the officers re- 
sponsible for planning operations should also be responsible for executing 
them. Finally, the Army theoretically favored the establishment of unity of 


command both over its own ground and air forces and over Army and Navy 
forces in potential or actual cheaters of operations, although in practice not 
much progress was made in either direction before die attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Peacetime and Planned Wartime Organization 

The National Defense Act of 1920 provided the basis for the establish- 
ment of a new command system for the Army after World War I, The War 
Department on 1 September 1920 established nine corps areas widi fixed 
boundaries and gave their commanders full tactical and administrative con- 
trol over all Army forces and installations within their areas except for those 
specifically exempted. The Army forces in rhe Panama Canal Zone, Hawaii, 
and the Philippines were organized into departments, identical in character 
and authority with the corps areas in the continental United States- Until 
the eve of World War II, the few Army troops in Puerto Rico and Alaska 
were not separately organized but were attached to the Second and Ninth 
Corps Areas, respectively, On 1 July 1939 Puerto Rico became a separate 
department, but Alaska remained under the Ninth Corps Area and successor 
defense agencies until 1 November 1943. Theoretically, from 1920 until 
1932 Army forces at home and overseas were divided among three army 
areas, but these areas never had more than a nominal existence, Until the 
fall of 1932, the tactical control of the ground and air combat forces re- 
mained with the corps area commanders, who in turn were directly respon- 
sible to the Chief of Staff, Under the corps area commanders, the commanders 
of five coast artillery districts were responsible for planning and executing 
the Army's scacoast defense mission. Corps area commanders themselves were 
responsible for defending the Canadian and Mexican land frontiers and for 
protecting the nation against internal disturbances. 1 

The system of command began to change in die fall of 1932 when the 
War Department established four armies without fixed territorial bounds 
though located within the limits of specified corps areas — the First Army 
within the Firsr, Second, and Third Corps Areas, for example. The initial 
"four-army" directives of 1932 seemed to indicate an intention to transfer 

1 The ig2Q organization was established by WD General Orders 50 and 7^ 1920; for the 
corps areas and departments, sec Arm/ Regulations 170—10, 1 May 1924,, and its various changes 
and revisions; for the coast artillery districts, AR 90-30, 26 June 1935; see also the manuscript 
prepared by the Control Division, Army Sen 1 ice Forces, History of Service Commands, Army Serv- 
ice Forces, pp. 10-19. All unpublished historical manuscripts, unless otherwise indicated, are 
in OCMH files. 



all tactical responsibility except for internal security measures from the corps 
area to the army commanders, but modifications of the four-army plan in 
1933 and 1934 restricted the army commanders to war planning and the di- 
rection of field maneuvers within their areas. Furthermore, until the autumn 
of 1940 the armies were not given separate commanders and staffs to perform 
these functions; the senior corps area commander within an army area served 
as the army commander, and used his corps area staff to conduct the army's 
business.- Since three of the four army headquarters changed location between 
1932 and 1940, this last provision meant in practice that much army staff 
work had no continuity. Under these circumstances, although General Staff 
war plans after 1932 regularly specified that the armies should work out 
detailed area defense plans, the armies could do little effective planning of 
this sort before the fall of 1939. 3 

The War Plans Division of the General Staff defined the peacetime 
defense responsibilities of the corps area and army commanders in Febru- 
ary 1940 in the following terms: 

a. The missions of the several corps areas comprise: Defend as may be necessary 
important coastal areas in their respective corps areas; arrange with appropriate naval 
district commanders for cooperation of local naval defense forces in execution of 
assigned missions ; provide anti-sabotage protection for such installations and establish- 
ments vital to national defense as cannot be adequately protected by local civil author- 
ities; take necessary action under the Emergency Plan— White ; 4 and, in certain cases, 
receive at detraining points, move to concentration areas, care for, supply, and move 
to ports of embarkation units designated for [overseas] movement. 

b. The armies are responsible for coordinating the defense of the coastal frontiers 
of the corps areas included in their respective army area; for exercising general super- 
vision of the arrangements made by those corps areas with the naval districts concerned 
for the cooperation of their local defense forces; and for effecting any necessary co- 
ordination of anti-sabotage measures along corps area boundaries. 5 

Irrespective of this definition, or of the wording of current regulations 
and directives, the army commanders during late 1939 and 1940 began to 
play a more active role in war planning and in the tactical direction of the 
military forces within their areas. Their authority was potentially enhanced by 
an act of 5 August 1939 giving them the rank of lieutenant general and thus 

2 AR 160-10, 3 July 1934, states the responsibilities of the army commanders in much more 
restricted terms than had the directives of the Chief of Staff issued on 9 August and 11 October 
1932. On the modification of the original plan, see particularly Memo, CG Fourth Army for 
TAG, 7 Mar 33. Papers referred to are in AG 320.2 (8-6-32). 

8 Memo, Maj Stephen H. Sherrill for Lt Col Robert W. Crawford, WPD, 1 Nov 39, WPD 

4 The plan for using federal troops to quell domestic uprisings. 

5 Memo, WPD for TAG, 26 Feb 40, WPD 2917-25. 



General Drum 

making them superior in rank to the 
corps area commanders. A month 
later, after the outbreak of war in 
Europe, the War Department 
launched a series of immediate ac- 
tion measures to improve the 
Army's state of readiness. There- 
after, Lt. Gen. Hugh A. Drum, 
commanding the First Army (and 
Second Corps Area) on the east 
coast, and (from December 1939) 
Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt, com- 
manding the Fourth Army (and 
Ninth Corps Area) on the west 
coast, assumed the increasingly 
broad responsibility that circum- 
stances required. Without any im- 
mediate change in existing regula- 
tions and directives, the army commanders began to exercise the superior 
tactical authority within their areas that had originally been proposed for 

A second major change in the command structure occurred in 1935 with 
the creation of the General Headquarters (GHQ) Air Force. This organiza- 
tion centralized control over all tactical air units in the continental United 
States under one commander. Until the fall of 1940 air units under the 
GHQ Air Force were divided among three wings located adjacent to the 
Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts. The GHQ Air Force commander was 
directly responsible to the Chief of Staff until 1 March 1939, when he was 
placed under the intermediate command of the Chief of the Air Corps. The 
removal of air units from the control of armies and corps areas did not 
change the responsibility of their commanders for planning the co-ordinated 
ground and air defense of their areas, but increasingly the air organization 
began to engage in defense planning on its own behalf. 6 

The proper development and co-ordination of the means for air defense 
presented the Army with a new organizational problem late in 1939. Suc- 

6 Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, eds., 'The Army Air Forces in World War II," 
vol. I, Plans and Early Operations: January 1939 to August 1942 (Chicago: The University of 
Chicago Press, 1948) (hereafter cited as Craven and Cate, eds., Plans and Early Operations), 



cessful air defense depended upon the integrated action of interceptor planes, 
antiaircraft guns, and aircraft warning devices for detecting the approach 
of hostile aircraft. Interceptor aircraft were then under GHQ Air Force com- 
mand, and most antiaircraft units were controlled by the coast artillery 
district commanders. The armies had been specifically charged in 1935 with 
planning for the employment of antiaircraft artillery and aircraft warning 
devices in air defense. The War Plans Division officer most concerned with 
the development of long-range radar equipment urged in November 1939 
that corps area commanders be made responsible for planning its employ- 
ment. Noting that the Fourth Army had previously turned over this task 
to coast defense commanders, he observed that an air attack on the United 
States was as likely to strike deep in the interior as against the coast. There- 
fore, he contended, only the corps areas provided a framework that could 
plan the nationwide employment of aircraft warning devices. A War Plans 
Division colleague expressed opposing views and urged that aircraft warning 
plans be a responsibility of the army commanders because they would pre- 
sumably be called upon to execute these plans in the event of a real emer- 
gency. His views prevailed, and the War Department on 23 May 1940 
directed the army commanders to develop plans for the effective use of air- 
craft warning devices and to select the sites for the location of detector 
stations. 7 

The graver problem of organizing a co-ordinated and effective air defense 
system under a united command occupied the attention of an Army Air 
Defense Board during the winter of 1939-40. There was general agreement 
that the War Department ought to create a new type of command that could 
exercise control over the various air defense elements in an emergency. The 
Air Corps wanted this new organization to be under the GHQ Air Force. 
After much discussion General Marshall decided to create an experimental 
Air Defense Command in the northeastern United States and to place it 
under the First Army. The War Department specified that its commander, 
although put under First Army Command, should be free to co-ordinate 
details of his work with the GHQ Air Force and corps area commanders. 8 

The division of responsibility for war planning and immediate defense 
action among corps area, army, Air Defense Command, and GHQ Air Force 
commanders did not matter too much so long as the likelihood of an attack 
on the continental United States appeared remote and the size of the Army 

7 WPD Interoffice Memos, 30 Oct and 1 Nov 39, WPD 3640-3; Memo, WPD for CofS, 31 
Jul 40, AG 660.2 AA (1-1-40), sec. 1. 

8 Ltr, TAG to CG's, 26 Feb 40, AG 320.2 (11-24-39). 


was still too small to justify the 
establishment of the more elaborate 
organization planned for wartime. 
A transition toward reorganization 
became mandatory as the actual 
threat of war loomed in May and 
June 1940, and as the Army there- 
after began its rapid expansion and 
the tremendous task of training the 
new Army for war employment if 
that should become necessary. 

In the wartime organization 
planned under the Defense Act of 
1920 the capstone was to be a Gen- 
eral Headquarters (GHQ) . Until 
otherwise directed by the President; 
the Chief of Staff in wartime was General DeWitt 

also to serve as Commanding Gen- 
eral of the Field Forces and to direct both ground and air operations through 
GHQ. Under GHQ, there might be one or more active theaters of operations, 
with commanders who would exercise full authority over all Army activities 
within theater boundaries. Theaters of operations might be established either 
overseas or in the continental United States; the remainder of the continental 
United States not included in theaters of operations would constitute the zone 
of the interior. 9 The four armies in the continental United States on M-day (or 
before, if so directed by the War Department) would assume full responsi- 
bility for the defense of their areas against external attack; at the same time, 
they were to be prepared to move to a theater of operations if so directed. The 
corps area commanders on M-day would retain tactical responsibility for in- 
ternal security only within the zone of the interior; theater commanders in the 
continental United States would assume this as well as all other tactical 

The armed services had agreed to co-ordinate their frontier defense ac- 
tivities in peace and war in accordance with the provisions of Joint Action 
of the Army and the Navy, as revised by the Joint Board in 1935 and sub- 
sequently amended. During peace, Joint Action provided for the co-ordination 
of local seacoast defense preparations between the Army's corps area com- 

9 FM 100-10, 9 Dec 40, pp. 5-12. 



manders (or alternately, through the latter's subsidiary coast artillery district 
and harbor defense commanders) and the corresponding naval district com- 
manders. Army commanders were responsible in peacetime for planning 
wartime coastal defense measures, and on M-day they were to assume re- 
sponsibility for their execution. Joint Action provided for the establishment 
of four coastal frontiers (North Atlantic, Southern, Pacific, and Great Lakes) 
and for their subdivision in war into sectors and subsectors. These coastal 
frontiers were to become active commands in wartime, at which time the 
Army's coast artillery districts were to cease to exist as such and their com- 
manders and staffs were to man the Army's portion of the wartime coast de- 
fense organization and be responsible in turn to the army commanders. 10 
The coastal command system prescribed in Joint Action had two outstanding 
deficiencies. First, it did not provide an effective means for establishing unity 
of command where it was really required. Unity of command was not estab- 
lished anywhere until the attack on Pearl Harbor illustrated the disastrous 
consequences of not doing so. Second, there was no clear delineation of Army 
and Navy responsibility for coastal air defense, and thus there was no agree- 
ment as to how an effective air defense of coastal regions should be organized 
and controlled. 

Reorganization, July 1940-December 1941 

The critical situation facing the United States in June 1940 furnished the 
immediate impetus for the first steps toward the establishment of a wartime 
command organization. With Britain's early downfall still considered prob- 
able, and therefore the chance of early American involvement in the war 
believed likely, the War Department in July moved to activate GHQ. The 
order establishing a nucleus of GHQ specified that GHQ's purpose was to 
assist the Commanding General of the Field Forces in the exercise of "juris- 
diction similar to that of Army Commanders" over all mobile ground and 
air and fixed harbor defense forces in the continental United States. Army 
commanders at this time had jurisdiction over war planning and field ma- 
neuvers within their areas, but GHQ's activities for the time being were ex- 
pressly confined to the over-all direction and supervision of combat training. 11 

The War Department also turned its attention, coincidentally with the 
establishment of GHQ, to a reorganization of the field forces in the con- 

10 Joint Action, ch. V. 

11 Ltr, TAG to CG's, 26 Jul 40, AG 320.2 (7-25-40). 



tinental United States in order to give better direction to their training and 
to improve their readiness for action should the nation become involved in 
the war. This reorganization had to be adjusted to the rapid increase in the 
Army's strength that followed the induction of the National Guard, ap- 
proved by Congress in August 1940, and the passage of selective service 
legislation in September. These measures together with an increase in 
Regular Army strength were to multiply the Army's numbers more than 
fivefold by the summer of 1941, and most of the men and units that were 
brought into federal service required intensive training. What the Army 
needed in 1940 and 1941 was a command system that would improve the 
normal peacetime machinery for the planning and direction of operations 
without unduly disrupting training. 

The problem of fitting the Army's air arm into an effective reorganiza- 
tion of command was complicated by additional factors. Air Corps officers 
wanted a greater degree of autonomy in planning and directing the em- 
ployment of air power, and they tended to resist the adoption of any organ- 
izational scheme that would place air planning and operations under ground 
commanders. The airmen had good reason for maintaining their position, 
since the problem of continental and hemisphere defense seemed increasingly 
to be primarily one of air defense. The technological improvement of air- 
craft also tended to render obsolete the older plans for coastal defense 
organization. The greater range and mobility of the new combat planes 
made it undesirable to set up any organization that would require the attach- 
ment of air units to relatively small territorial commands and restrict their 
employment to the confines of these commands. The scarcity of combat air- 
craft added emphasis to the other arguments against territorial attachment. 
In June 1940 the Army had adopted an ambitious program for organizing 
and equipping fifty-four air combat groups, but national policy after Sep- 
tember dictated the diversion of an increasingly large proportion of Amer- 
ican combat aircraft production to Great Britain and the other nations fight- 
ing the Axis Powers. During late 1940 and most of 1941, therefore, almost 
all of the combat airplanes available to the Army within the continental 
United States had to be used in training. There was virtually no "GHQ 
Reserve" of combat planes and units, and units in training had to be desig- 
nated for current defense employment if that became necessary. The effec- 
tive training of the rapidly expanding air forces required that in the mean- 
time these units remain under air command. 

With the easing of the critical Atlantic situation from September 1940 
onward, the Army was able to concentrate more attention on training its 



rapidly growing forces for future operations. Accordingly, the next moves 
toward a tactical reorganization were associated more with training than 
with the planning and direction of operations. A proposal of the G-3 
Division of the General Staff in July 1940 that the corps areas be provided 
with additional tactical headquarters to facilitate training grew into a War 
Department directive of 3 October 1940 ordering the separation of the field 
armies and the corps areas. This directive and supplementary War Depart- 
ment orders provided the armies with separate commanders and staffs, and 
contemplated also a complete segregation of army and corps area headquar- 
ters and functions. The armies were given command of the ground combat 
forces, which had hitherto been under corps area control except during 
maneuvers, and the armies now assumed full responsibility for planning and 
directing the employment of these troops in the defense of the continental 
United States against external attack. Though the corps area commanders 
retained their responsibility for internal security measures, the corps areas 
thereafter became essentially supply and administrative agencies. 12 

The War Department similarly initiated a reorganization of the com- 
bat air forces in the summer of 1940, after the adoption of the fifty-four 
group program. In August the Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall, 
directed the establishment of four air districts to replace the existing three- 
wing subordinate organization of the GHQ Air Force. These air districts 
were intended primarily to facilitate the supervision of training. Under the 
four air districts, GHQ Air Force units were to be organized initially into 
seventeen wings and forty groups. The existing Air Defense Command, 
operating in the northeast United States under the direction of the First 
Army commander, was to serve as a model for a nationwide air defense com- 
mand system. This air reorganization was only partially carried through in 
1940; the air districts were not activated until 15 January 1941, and the 
expansion of the air defense command system was not approved until March 
1941. In the meantime, the War Department on 19 November 1940 removed 
the GHQ Air Force from the control of the Chief of the Air Corps and 
placed it under GHQ. The appointment, shortly before this change, of 
Maj. Gen. Henry H. Arnold, the Chief of the Air Corps, to the additional 
post of Deputy Chief of Staff made it possible for him to continue to exert 
a measure of control over the operations of the GHQ Air Force. 13 

12 Ltrs, TAG to CG's, 3 and 7 Oct 40, and other papers, AG 320.2 (8-2-40) (4), sec. 2. 

13 Ltr, TAG to CG's, 19 Nov 40, and other papers, AG 320.2 (11-27-40) ; Craven and Cate, 
eds., Plans and Early Operations, chs. 4 and 5 ; Kent Roberts Greenfield, Robert R. Palmer, and 
Bell I. Wiley, The Organization of Ground Combat Troops, UNITED STATES ARMY IN 
WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1947), "Origins of the Army Ground Forces: General Head- 



The organizational changes of late 1940 left a confused and unsatisfac- 
tory definition of responsibility for the planning and direction of current 
and future defense tasks in the continental United States. The confusion 
was such that subordinate ground and air commanders had to be reminded 
in December that GHQ still had no functions except those associated with 
training. 11 The four armies had acquired responsibility for planning and 
controlling operations, but the armies were not territorial organizations and 
in theory were subject to transfer from their areas to overseas theaters of 
operations. The situation seemed to call for a new type of fixed territorial 
defense organization. In October 1940 the GHQ staff, noting that neither 
the armies nor the planned coastal frontier organization met existing re- 
quirements, proposed that four territorial defense commands be organized, 
with bounds approximating those of the armies. Maj. Gen. Lesley J. McNair, 
the GHQ Chief of Staff, personally objected to the term "defense com- 
mands" and wanted the new organizations called "theaters/* Whatever they 
were called, these defense areas in peacetime were to engage only in plan- 
ning and were to be commanded by army commanders assisted by a small 
separate staff, but they were to be so organized that in time of war they could 
be transformed into a theater of operations type of organization which would 
operate under GHQ and command the ground and air forces assigned for 
the execution of continental defense missions. 15 

The War Plans Division incorporated the GHQ proposal for the creation 
of defense commands into a study on continental defense organization pre- 
pared by Col. Jonathan W. Anderson in late 1940 and presented to the 
Chief of Staff in mid-January 1941. It appeared to Colonel Anderson that 
the wartime defense organization prescribed by Joint Action of the Army 
and the Navy was archaic, since Joint Action provided for a narrow coastal 
frontier defense only, whereas the possibilities of air attack now required 
a defense in depth well into the interior of the country. Furthermore, political 
considerations demanded at least an outline defense organization for the 

quarters, United States Army, 1940— 42," chs. I, VIII, IX, X; Ray S. Cline, Washington Com- 
mand Post: The Operations Division, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Wash- 
ington, 195 1 ) (hereafter cited as Cline, The Operations Division), chs. I, IV; Mark Skinner 
Watson, Chief of Staff: Prewar Plans and Preparations, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD 
WAR II (Washington, 1950) (hereafter cited as Watson, Prewar Plans and Preparations), ch. IX. 
The cited portions of these other volumes in this series deal with organizational changes in the 
1940—41 period, and they have been drawn upon for this and succeeding paragraphs in this chapter. 

14 Ltr, TAG to CG's, 13 Dec 40, AG 320.2 (12-5-40). 

15 Memo (not used), CofS GHQ for Gen Marshall, 21 Oct 40; Memo, CofS GHQ for DCofS 
Maj Gen William Bryden, 7 Dec 40. Both in GHQ 320.2/78. Memo, CofS GHQ for WFD, 
14 Dec 40, GHQ 381 (S), binder 1. 



whole continental area. General McNair, in discussing these matters with 
Colonel Anderson, emphasized the desirability of holding to a minimum 
the forces tactically assigned to the First, Third, and Fourth Armies guard- 
ing the seacoast frontiers, and of keeping as many combat units as possible 
with the Second Army in the interior. General McNair's thought was: 
"If we give to the First Army three corps, regardless of their needs, . . . they 
will plan the employment and distribution of three corps, and ... it may be 
difficult at a critical time to pry these troops loose/' The First Army, on the 
other hand, naturally and strongly advocated a defense organization that 
would give it wartime control over all ground and air forces within its area, 
peacetime control of a nucleus of bombardment as well as pursuit aviation, 
and full air defense responsibility. It also wanted to extend the boundaries 
of the North Atlantic Coastal Frontier to include all United States garrisons 
established in the North Atlantic area. In principle, War Plans and GHQ 
agreed on the necessity of holding the ground and air forces assigned to 
defense missions to a minimum, and of retaining all possible forces in GHQ 
ground and air reserves from which they could be allocated to active theaters 
as necessary. General McNair wanted to place the air defense commands in 
peacetime under GHQ Air Force control in order to facilitate their training; 
War Plans wanted them under the defense commands in order to establish 
unity of command in peacetime over all Army defense elements that would 
be under the defense (or theater) commander in time of war. 16 

The issue of where to put the air defense commands in the new con- 
tinental defense organization had deeper implications. Giving the GHQ 
Air Force control over all air defense means would be another big step 
toward air autonomy. In November 1940, before War Plans circulated its 
continental defense proposal for comment, G-3 had taken the initiative in 
suggesting that the existing Air Defense Command and new commands 
modeled after it be put under the air districts, and that the air districts, 
under the GHQ Air Force, be given a very different function from that ap- 
proved for them by General Marshall the preceding August. They would 
become tactical as well as training and administrative organizations. Each 
air district would have a bombardment-fighter force for offensive air opera- 
tions and an air defense command for defensive purposes. This scheme 
would centralize air defense control for the whole United States in one 

16 Memo, Brig Gen Francis B. Wilby, CofS First Army, for Col Anderson, WPD, 30 Nov 40, 
no sub; Memo for File (recording conversation with Gen McNair), Col Anderson, WPD, 5 Dec 
40; Memo, ACofS WPD for CofS 14 Dec 40, sub; Def Plans— Cont U.S.; OCS Brief of WPD 
Memo, 16 Jan 41- All in OPD 320 Def of Cont U.S., Bulky Package 37. 



headquarters, to be located in Washington. Subject to the over-all control 
of GHQ, the GHQ Air Force would collaborate directly with the Navy in 
fending off sea and air invaders until an actual land invasion of the con- 
tinental United States occurred; only then would unity of command over all 
ground and air forces be established. Adhering to these views, G-3 refused 
to concur in the War Plans study. In the meantime, and after he had heard 
"disturbing rumors/' the commanding general of the GHQ Air Force urged 
General Marshall to put all air defense elements under the air districts and 
thus under his force. When General Marshall found time in mid-January 
to study and discuss the War Plans, G-3, and GHQ Air Force proposals, he 
noted that he was "considerably impressed" with the G-3 argument. This 
argument was further fortified shortly thereafter by Lt. Col. William K. 
Harrison, Jr., of the War Plans Division who, after observing the Air 
Defense Command's exercises at Mitchel Field, likewise recommended that 
the air defense commands be put under the air districts. 17 

An intensive and month-long round of discussions with respect to the 
peacetime continental defense system followed. Those who favored placing 
the air defense commands under the four territorial commands argued that 
there must be unity and continuity of command in peace and war over all 
defense elements. This argument undoubtedly would have carried more 
weight if the United States had been closer to war and its continental area 
more imminently threatened. Everyone agreed that in time of war each 
theater commander should have control over all air and ground forces within 
his area. But, as General Arnold pointed out, under existing circumstances 
it was impossible to foresee where real theaters of operations might be 
required, and thus it was impossible to delimit them in peacetime. General 
Arnold believed that the greatest immediate need was for air defense com- 
mands overseas in Hawaii and Panama, and that the GHQ Air Force was the 
proper agency for training mobile air defense commands within the United 
States that could be sent overseas where needed. He argued therefore that 
"the United States should be considered basically as a Zone of the Interior," 
in which "all elements of the Field Forces must be prepared for overseas 
operations primarily, and the defense of the United States secondarily/' 18 

17 Memo, ACofS G-3 for CofS, 17 Nov 40, AG 320.2 (11-27-40) ; Pers Ltr, Lt Gen Delos C. 
Emmons, CG GHQ Air Force, to Gen Marshall, 23 Dec 40; Ltr, Marshall to Emmons, 31 Dec. 40. 
Last two in WPD 4247-7. Memo, ACofS G-3 for WPD, 6 Jan 41; Memo, CofS for Gen Bryden, 
15 Jan 41. Last two in OPD 320 Def of Cont U.S., Bulky Package 37. Memo, Col Harrison, 
WPD, for ACofS WPD, 24 Jan 41, WPD 4247-8. 

18 Memo, Gen Arnold (as DCofS for Air) for Gen Bryden, 6 Feb 41, OPD 320 Def of Cont 
U.S., Bulky Package 37. General Arnold stated the arguments in favor of Air control of air defense 
in three lengthy memorandums: two (27 Jan 1941 for General Bryden and 21 Feb 1941 for 



Maj. Gen. James E. Chaney, commanding the existing Air Defense Com- 
mand, joined in urging the Chief of Staff to put air defense under the GHQ 
Air Force. 19 Finally, after extended discussion, General Marshall decided 
to put the air defense system under the direction of the GHQ Air Force in 
time of peace and then directed the War Plans Division to work out a con- 
tinental defense organization on this basis. 20 

Accordingly the War Department on 17 March 1941 directed that the 
continental United States be divided into four strategic areas (Northeast, 
Central, Southern, and Western) to be known as defense commands. It 
defined a defense command as "a territorial agency with appropriate staff 
designed to coordinate or prepare to initiate the execution of all plans for 
the employment of Army Forces and installations against enemy action in 
that portion of the United States lying within the command boundaries." 21 
The new commands were to operate under the direction of GHQ, but not 
until the War Department enlarged the GHQ staff so that it could undertake 
this additional responsibility. 22 

The defense commands were made responsible during peacetime for 

planning the defense of their areas against ground and air attack, the corps 

area commanders retaining their responsibility for internal security plans 

and measures. Other features of the new command system were described 

in some remarks of Colonel Anderson: 

The four Army Commanders, in addition to their responsibilities as Army Com- 
manders, are designated as Commanding Generals, Defense Commands. The responsi- 
bility of the Commanding General, Defense Command, includes all planning for the 
defense of the area, the coordination of these plans with the Navy, and the execution 
of them in war until such time as the War Department directs to the contrary. The 
Commanding General, GHQ Air Force, is given the responsibility for the peacetime 
organization and training for air operations and air defense throughout the entire 
continental United States. He exercises this responsibility through four Air Forces, 
each of these Air Forces replacing one of the existing Air Districts. In addition, he is 
responsible for the aviation and air defense portions of the defense plans for Defense 

General Marshall) in his capacity of Deputy Chief of Staff, in file cited above; the third (3 Feb 
1941 for General Marshall) in his capacity of Chief of the Air Corps, filed in AG 320.2 

19 Memo, Gen Chaney for Gen Marshall, 15 Feb 41 ; Pers Ltr, Gen Chaney to Gen Marshall, 
17 Feb 41. Both in OPD 320 Def of Cont U.S., Bulky Package 37. 

20 General Marshall's genuine puzzlement over the best solution to this problem is reflected in 
his remarks at conferences in his office on 14, 16, and 19 Feb 1941, and at the War Department 
General Council meeting on 19 Feb 1941. His decision was announced in Memo, DCofS Bryden 
for WPD, 28 Feb 41, WPD 4247-9; and elaborated in Memo for Red, Col Anderson, WPD, 
3 Mar 41, OPD 320 Def of Cont U.S., Bulky Package 37. 

21 Ltr, TAG to CG's, 17 Mar 41, AG 320,2 ( 1 1-27-40) . 

22 Ltr, TAG to CG's, 25 Mar 41, AG 320.2 (11-27-40). 



Commands. Each Air Force is organized as a bomber command and an interceptor 
command, the latter replacing the currently named Air Defense Command. The above 
organization centralizes under the Commanding General, GHQ Air Force, full control 
and responsibility for the peacetime development and training of aviation and means 
and methods of air defense, It decentralizes to the Commanding Generals, Defense 
Commands, responsibility for peacetime planning for coordination with the Navy 
and for execution of defense in war. It provides for unity of command in all elements 
employed in each Defense Command. 23 

The new organization in effect was designed to free the armies from 
defense responsibilities and thereby permit them to give their full attention 
to training ground combat units. Though the new defense commands, when 
activated in June and July, actually consisted of only a few headquarters 
staff officers engaged in regional planning, the defense command promised 
to provide a suitable means of transition toward a wartime theater organiza- 
tion, should that become necessary. 

The March 1941 reorganization marked a further step toward air auton- 
omy, but the Air Corps had plans for a new and more sweeping air re- 
organization. Nor was the Air Corps alone in questioning the adequacy of 
the March reorganization. Before the month was over General Marshall had 
given his approval to a virtually independent handling of air matters within 
the War Department. 24 In April Secretary of War Stimson noted that the 
defense system established in March struck him as a "dangerous arrangement" 
pregnant with "possibilities for misunderstanding and trouble." 25 Mr. Stim- 
son had previously indicated his approval of a unified command system for the 
Army's air forces, and in his own office he had elevated Robert A. Lovett 
to the long-vacant post of Assistant Secretary of War for Air. With encour- 
agement such as this, the Air Corps continued between April and June to 
work out the details of its planned reorganization. 

In the air reorganization approved and instituted in June the GHQ Air 
Force disappeared. The new air establishment was an integral part of the 
War Department placed directly under the Chief of Staff. Its Chief, General 
Arnold, continued to occupy the position of Deputy Chief of Staff for Air 
as well. The Army Air Forces had two components, the Air Corps to handle 
service functions, and the Air Force Combat Command to control combat 
training, planning, and operations. The charter of the Army Air Forces — 
Army Regulations 95-5 issued on 20 June 1941 — in effect gave it complete 

23 Remarks of Colonel Anderson at Conf in office of DCofS Bryden, 14 Mar 41, OCS Conf, 
binder 11. For a graphic presentation of the new organization, see Greenfield, Palmer, and Wiley, 
Organization of Ground Combat Troops, charts 4 and 5, pp. 118, 120-21. 

24 Watson, Prewar Plans and Preparations, pp. 291-92. 

25 Stimson Diary, entry of 24 Apr 41. 



authority over air defense planning and operations within the continental 
United States, at least until theaters of operations were established there. 
The Chief of the Army Air Forces delegated his specific responsibility for 
air defense planning to the Air Force Combat Command, which in turn called 
upon the commanders of the four regional air forces for local defense plans. 

The War Department gave the Army Air Forces authority over air de- 
fense planning and operations within the United Scates without revoking 
any of the responsibility allocated in March to the defense commanders for 
all defense planning — air as well as ground — within their areas. To add to 
the confusion, their area defense plans were to be subject to the review and 
approval not of the Army Air Forces but of GHQ as soon as it was activated 
as an operational headquarters, as it was about to be. 26 The following state- 
ment, agreed on by the Army Air Forces and the War Plans Division, repre- 
sented an early efforc to clarify the situation: 

The Chief of the Army Air Forces, pursuant to policies, directions and instructions 
from the Secretary of War, has been made responsible for the organization, planning, 
training, and execution of active air defense measures, for continental United States. 
Active operations will be controlled by G.H.Q. These operations will be directed by 
appropriate commanders, either ground or air, as may be dictated by the situation. 27 

Subsequently, General Arnold agreed that neither the Army Air Forces nor 
its component Air Force Combat Command had any official authority to 
conduct or control air combat operations within a theater of operations 
established either overseas or within the continental United States. 28 

These interpretations failed to meet che basic objections leveled by the 
War Plans Division against the new air organization on the eve of its estab- 
lishment. The War Plans staff then noted that "the essentials of proper 
organization require that responsibility and authority be centered in a single 
agency, and that where this authority and responsibility lie be clearly and 
definitely stated," and also that "no organization should be set up which 
requires material change to pass from a peace to a war basis/' According to 
the War Plans Division, the new air organization failed in two vital points 
when tested by these principles. Noting that Assistant Secretary Lovett in 

20 In commenting on the Operation and Concentration Plan, Rainbow 5, distributed for com- 
ment by the War Plans Division in early July, G-3 noted that in paragraphs 32-34 of the plan the 
defense commanders were assigned the mission of defense against air attack, whereas paragraph 40 
charged the Chief of the Army Air Forces with responsibility for active air defense measures. 
Memo, G-3 for WPD, 14 Jul 41, WPD 4175-18. 

27 WPD Memo for File, 30 Jun 41, WPD 4247-18. 

28 Memo, DCofS for Air for CofS GHQ, 18 Aug 41, quoted in Greenfield, Palmer, and Wiley, 
Organization of Ground Combat Troops, p. 135. 



presenting the air organization for approval had agreed that GHQ should 
be ultimately responsible for the planning and conduct of operations, War 
Plans nevertheless held that the air organization as proposed failed "to grant 
the Commanding General of the Field Forces at GHQ command authority 
over all the means." The proposed organization also failed "to prescribe a 
rapid and certain means of coordinated employment of ground and air 
forces." " !> All of which meant that while the air reorganization of June 1941 
brought order within the Army's air arm, it had not eliminated the "possibil- 
ities for misunderstandings and trouble" that Secretary Stimson had foreseen 
after the March 1941 reorganization. 

In the meantime the passage of the Lend-Lease Act in March 1941 fol- 
lowed by President Roosevelt's decision to extend the scope of American 
naval operations in the North Atlantic had again presented the prospect of 
active if limited American involvement in the war. It appeared by May that 
the Army might be ordered on short notice to arrange the dispatch of expe- 
ditionary forces from the United States to sundry strategic points along the 
Atlantic front. Such an order was actually issued on 22 May when the 
President directed that the Army and Navy prepare an expeditionary force 
ready to sail to the Azores within one month's time. The preparation and 
dispatch of a force of this sort required a type of detailed theater planning 
and executive supervision that no War Department agency was then pre- 
pared to perform. 

General Marshall met this need by establishing an operations section in 
GHQ. The directive for this new agency, which he approved on 24 June, 
stated that GHQ should also prepare to divest itself of its training functions, 
thus indicating the intention of translating GHQ into the type of operational 
headquarters contemplated in prewar planning. GHQ was granted broad 
powers to plan and to control military operations, but only when it was 
authorized by the War Department to do so for specified commands and 
areas. When GHQ assumed its new operational functions on 3 July 1941, 
ir also had instructions to take over the responsibility for defense planning 
in the continental United States as soon as its operational staff was ready to 
handle the work. 30 

As things worked out, before Pearl Harbor GHQ was not given the 
authority to command the new continental defense organization established 
in March and June 1941, and it had only limited authority over continental 

29 Memo, WPD for CofS, 14 Jun 41, WPD 3774-20. 

30 WPD Office Memo and Note for Red, both dated 17 June 41, WPD 3209-1 1 ; Memo, WPD 
for CofS, 19 Jun 41, WPD 3209-10; Ltr, TAG to CofS GHQ, 3 Jul 41, AG 320.2 (6-19-41). 



defense planning. The terms of the new GHQ directive and a statement in 
the War Department Rainbow 5 plan distributed in July together were 
interpreted by the War Plans , Division and GHQ as giving the latter the 
responsibility for supervising the preparation of plans by the defense com- 
mands in the continental United States. Subsequently the War Department 
specifically authorized GHQ to supervise the preparation of continental as 
well as overseas regional defense plans and to consult with appropriate 
representatives of the Army Air Forces, the defense commands, and over- 
seas organizations in the execution of this responsibility. 31 Neither GHQ 
nor the defense commands were given the authority to approve or dis- 
approve continental air defense plans; they could only co-ordinate the air 
defense portion of over-all plans with the plans of the Army Air Forces. 

The operational mission of GHQ was further complicated by a funda- 
mental difference of opinion as to how best to organize for continental and 
overseas defense. The method prescribed in March 1941 contemplated the 
segregation of continental defense 'forces from those of overseas areas and 
bases. Generals Drum and DeWitt, commanding the armies and defense 
commands on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, favored the linking of con- 
tinental and overseas forces as the best way of permitting the projection of 
Army power in the direction of a hostile threat. General DeWitt wanted to 
keep Alaska under his command, and General Drum's Northeast Defense 
Command headquarters in August 1941 assumed that even Army bases 
established in Great Britain would come under its authority. 32 The Army 
Air Forces wanted to establish northeastern and northwestern air theaters 
. that would tie in overseas areas and bases with the air forces stationed along 
the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States. 33 Under this plan the 
air strength of outlying bases could be kept at a bare minimum, since re- 
inforcements could be readily shuttled from the continental United States 
without violating command boundaries. 

But a system under which the continental air forces would provide 
overseas reinforcements on call was incompatible with a defense organization 
segregating continental and overseas Army forces. With the armies in theory 
also movable organizations, a similar incompatibility existed in the Army- 
continental defense command relationship at the time of Pearl Harbor. 

31 ist Ind, TAG to CG WDC, n Oct 41, on Ltr, WDC to TAG, 10 Sep 41, AG 381 
(9-10-41) ; Memo, WPD for CofS, 23 Sep 41, revised and approved as a WD directive, 22 Oct 
41, WPD 4175-18. 

32 On the last point, s ee papers in W PD 4247-21. 

33 See below, ch. XV, |pp. 395— 96.) 



The Wartime Organization 

When the United States went to war on 7 December 1941, the Army's 
responsibility for defending the nation's continental area rested with the 
four armies and four air forces rather than with the defense commands that 
had been activated earlier in the year. The first step toward translating these 
continental defense commands into something more than planning agencies 
was taken the day before the Japanese struck in the Pacific. As a result of a 
suggestion first put forward by the War Plans Division in August 1941, the 
War Department on 6 December directed that the command of harbor and 
coast defense units should pass from army to defense commanders not later 
than 1 January 1942. 34 The outbreak of war precipitated more far-reaching 
changes. After conferring with his principal subordinates on 11 December, 
General Marshall decided to designate the Western Defense Command (in- 
cluding Alaska) as a theater of operations. Instructions to this effect were 
immediately dispatched to General DeWitt, who took command of the new 
theater before midnight the same day. 33 Also on the 11th, General Drum, 
the commander of the First Army, arranged an informal system for co- 
ordinating Army and Navy defense forces in the northeastern United States 
that lasted until the establishment of the Eastern Theater of Operations a 
fortnight later. 36 On both coasts the commanders proceeded to organize the 
defense system long contemplated in Army and Navy planning, coastal 
frontier sectors and subsectors replacing the peacetime coast artillery district 
and local harbor defense organizations. 

The Western Defense Command as a theater commanded the Fourth 
Army, the Second and Fourth Air Forces, and the Ninth Corps Area. General 
DeWitt retained personal command of the now subordinate Fourth Army 
and exercised control through a combined theater and army headquarters. 
As a theater commander, General DeWitt controlled all Army troops and 
installations within the bounds of the Western Defense Command (which 
comprised California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, Utah, 
Montana, and Alaska), except those specifically exempted by War Depart- 
ment instructions. These instructions imposed three important categories of 
limitations on his authority: those associated with the organization and 
movement of air units within his theater; those connected with the move- 

34 Memo, WPD for CofS, i Aug 41, Ltr, TAG to CG's 6 Dec 41, and other papers, WPD 

35 Notes on Conf in OCS, n Dec 41, OCS Conf, binder 2; Rad, CG FF to CG Fourth Army, 
11 Dec 41 ; Rad, Gen DeWitt to TAG, 12 Dec 41. Last two in AG 320.2 ( 1 2-1 1-4 1 ) . 

36 Rad, Gen Drum to CofS, 12 Dec 41, WPD 4622-43. 



ment of ground and air units and supplies through his theater to overseas 
destinations; and those pertaining to nQntactical functions and installations 
that were kept under direct War Department control. The first group of 
limitations was designed to prevent any undue infringement of the auton- 
omy of the air organization, its training of air units, and their availability for 
quick transfer to other theaters. The second and third groups were essential 
to the establishment of any theater of operations within the continental 
United States. These limitations did not seriously restrict General DeWitt's 
freedom to use the means available within his theater for defending it 
against both external and internal attacks. 37 

On the east coast General Drum by conference had arranged an interim 
working organization for the Northeast Defense Command and a method 
of coastal defense collaboration between Army and Navy commanders. The 
First Army established a central headquarters to control all antiaircraft artil- 
lery units in the Northeast Defense Command. The Army and Navy com- 
mands set up a Joint Operations Office in New York that served as a model 
for joint operations centers which the Chief of Staff and Chief of Naval 
Operations asked other commands to establish. General Drum nevertheless 
believed that the informal arrangements made were inadequate, and he rec- 
ommended the activation of the Northeast Defense Command as the supreme 
Army authority in the northeastern United States. 38 

The War Department appreciated the desirability of centralizing the 
Army's command authority on the east coast, but it also recognized that the 
situation there differed fundamentally from that on the Pacific coast since 
there was no likelihood of any sizable land or air attack along the Atlantic 
front. Furthermore, the existing defense organization could not be readily 
translated into a theater of operations; the east coast was divided between 
two defense commands, the Northeast and the Southern, and each extended 
far into the interior of the continent. Air defense forces had to be organized 
so that they could be concentrated anywhere along the Atlantic coast, both 
in the continental United States and seaward to Newfoundland in the north 
and to the Caribbean in the south: 19 With nothing more than minor air or 
naval attacks foreseeable, there seemed to be no justification for a theater 

37 Tactical limitations on General DeWitt's authority were spelled out in Ltr, TAG to CG 
WDC, n Dec 41, WPD 4612-1. Nontactical (G-4 matters), in Ltr, TAG to CG WDC, 13 Dec 
41, OCS 14943-78. In practice General DeWitt's command was usually referred to as the Western 
Defense Command rather than the Western Theater of Operations. 

38 Rad, Gen Drum to CofS, 12 Dec 41, WPD 4622-43; Pers Ltr, Gen Drum to Gen Marshall, 
12 Dec 41, WPD 4247-23 ; Memo, WPD for CofS, 30 Dec 41 ; Jt Ltr, CofS and CNO to Comdrs 
and CG's, 31 Dec 41. Last two in WPD 4621-1. 

39 Proposed action papers for and against General Drum's proposal, Dec 41, WPD 4247-23. 



organization of forces extending any great distance into the interior. There- 
fore, instead of activating the Northeast Defense Command, the Army 
established a new Eastern Theater of Operations under General Drum's 
command. The Eastern theater included Newfoundland and the continental 
coast from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico at the Florida-Alabama line, and 
extended inland to a line drawn about four hundred miles from the Atlantic 
coast. The theater forces consisted initially of the First Army, the First and 
Third Air Forces, units assigned or attached to the First, Second, and Third 
Corps Areas, the forces of the Newfoundland Base Command, and "all 
other units now stationed in the Eastern Theater of Operations/' Units of 
these forces currently located outside the theater's boundaries were also put 
at the disposal of its commanding general. The limitations imposed on the 
theater commander's authority were virtually the same as those prescribed 
for the Western Defense Command. The new theater became active at noon 
on 24 December 194l. 40 

The War Department placed GHQ in command of the continental 
theaters established in December 1941, but did not extend its authority to 
include the Central and Southern Defense Commands. 41 These commands, 
occupying about 55 percent of the continental United States, changed in 
area, but their authority and means for carrying out defense measures re- 
mained poorly defined until March 1942. As long as the Eastern and West- 
ern theaters lasted as such, the zone of the interior was restricted, in theory, 
to the areas of the Central and Southern Defense Commands. In accordance 
with prewar plans the corps areas' responsibility for internal security mea- 
sures had passed to the theater commanders, but it remained with the corps 
areas in the zone of the interior. In both theaters the commanders began to 
organize a theater-type supply system and in doing so made further inroads 
on the functions of the corps areas. 

The greatest anomaly in the December reorganization, and the one that 
called for immediate remedy, was the air defense situation. The War Depart- 
ment's theater directives placed the four existing continental air forces under 

40 Ltr, TAG to CG's, 20 Dec 41, AG 371 (12-19-41) ; Memo, WPD for TAG, 25 Dec 41, 
WPD 4627-1. 

41 On 28 December General Marshall explained to President Roosevelt "that when the Western 
Defense Command had been set up and placed under GHQ, there had been a tendency on the 
part of GHQ to move everything on the east coast to the Western theater, and this condition had 
been remedied by setting up the Eastern Defense Command, which tended to balance this tendency 
on the part of GHQ." Notes on White House Conf, 28 Dec 41, WDCSA 334 Mtgs and Confs 
(1-28-42)- Actually, War Department agencies rather than GHQ appear to have initiated most 
of the troop moves to the west coast after Pearl Harbor, and GHQ took the lead in urging a re- 
duction in west coast strength. See Memo, CofS GHQ for CG FF, 23 Dec 41, WPD 4612-5. 



theater command, over the strong protest of the Army Air Forces, but left 
the Air Force Combat Command responsible for air defense measures in the 
Central and Southern Defense Commands. Early in January the Second and 
Third Air Forces were moved inland from the theaters and again came under 
Air Force Combat Command control, a move that did not satisfy the Army Air 
Forces, which wanted either to regain responsibility for all air defense means 
and measures in the continental United States or to be excused from any such 
responsibility altogether. General Arnold, as Chief of the Army Air Forces, 
protested to the War Department in late January that he was unable to dis- 
charge his assigned responsibilities for continental air defense; but as Deputy 
Chief of Staff for Air, General Arnold directed that no action be taken on 
this protest, except to use it as an additional argument for War Department 
reorganization. 42 

The garrisons of the two continental theaters at the beginning of 1942 
contained the bulk of the trained or partly trained combat ground and air 
units of the Army in the continental United States. Their forces included 
nineteen of the thirty-four divisions, most of the antiaircraft regiments, and 
more than two-thirds of the available combat air units. A good many of the 
ground combat troops were being used to guard vital installations — a task 
for which Army field force units were neither designed nor trained. Despite 
instructions directing the theater commanders to continue the maximum 
degree of training compatible with tactical assignments, the existing deploy- 
ment of ground and air forces was bound to interfere seriously with training, 
and furthermore it was threatening to freeze the bulk of the Army's forces 
in a perimeter defense of the continental United States. Only the imminent 
threat of large-scale invasion could have justified a continued deployment of 
this sort. Since it was soon evident that no such threat was in the offing on 
either coast, GHQ had begun to study ways and means of reducing the theater 
areas and garrisons even before the activation of the Eastern theater on 24 
December. 43 

To correct the situation, GHQ proposed that the Eastern and Western 
theaters be reduced to coastal frontier areas approximately one hundred miles 
wide, with Newfoundland separated from the Eastern theater. Instead of com- 

42 Rpt of Air Officer, GHQ, 6 Dec 41, GHQ 337 Staff Confs, binder 2; Ltr, TAG to CG's, 
30 Dec 41, AG 320.2 (12-30-41) ; Memo, AAF for TAG, 8 Jan 42, copy in OPD 320 Def of 
Cont U.S./2 ; Memo, WPD for CofS, 15 Jan 42, and atchd WPD comment on AAF nonoccur- 
rence, WPD 4627-2 ; Memo, LSK [Maj Lawrence S. Kuter] for SGS, 24 Jan 42, OCS 16125-591. 

43 Rpt at GHQ Staff Confs, 19 and 20 Dec 41, GHQ 337 Staff Confs, binder 2; Memo, G-3 
GHQ for CofS GHQ, 31 Dec 41; Memo, CofS GHQ for CG FF, 6 Jan 42. Last two in GHQ 
320.2 Study on Organization of Eastern and Western Theaters. 



manding the bulk of the field forces, the theaters were to be considered as task 
forces and would contain the air, antiaircraft, harbor defense, and troop 
guard units actually needed for defending the coasts against minor attacks. 
The First and Fourth Armies were to be separated from the theaters, or at 
least partially segregated from them, so that all of the armies could concen- 
trate on training larger field units. The corps areas would also be removed 
from theater control and would assume all supply functions. The basic idea 
of the GHQ plan was to ''reduce theater forces to the minimum required for 
defense of the coastal frontier, based on the present situation, and to return 
the maximum number of field forces to a training status." 44 The War Plans 
Division agreed with the premises underlying GHQ's proposals but disagreed 
with the remedies suggested. War Plans wanted to maintain the existing 
theater boundaries but to restrict interference with training by large-scale 
exemption of units and installations from theater control. It wanted to keep 
Newfoundland in the Eastern theater in order to permit its ready air rein- 
forcement. Pending the training of military police battalions that could 
replace the field units currently on internal guard duty, War Plans wanted 
to keep internal security responsibility under the theaters in order to avoid 
confusion and duplication in the assignment of troops to guard duty. 45 

To resolve the conflicting recommendations of GHQ and the War Plans 
Division on continental organization, General Marshall decided to send Brig. 
Gen. Mark W. Clark, Deputy Chief of Staff of GHQ, to make a survey of 
conditions on the west coast. Before General Clark's departure, the Chief of 
Staff apparently also decided that Generals Drum and DeWitt must be 
retained as commanders of the First and Fourth Armies, thus disposing of 
GHQ's recommendation that the armies and theaters be separated. After con- 
ferences with General DeWitt and other Army officials, General Clark recom- 
mended to General Marshall the abolition of theater status but the retention 
of the existing bounds of the Western and Eastern commands — the latter to 
be designated the Eastern Defense Command. The principal mobile ground 
force units to be assigned to the Eastern and Western commands would be 
approximately five and six regimental combat teams, respectively. He also 
proposed to divorce the corps areas and their functions from the defense 
commands, and to allot all internal security responsibility to the corps area 
commanders as soon as military police or other special types of guard units 
became available to replace field force units in guarding installations. The 

44 Various papers, 27 Dec 41-10 Jan 42, GHQ 320.2 Study on Organization of Eastern and 
Western Theaters. 

45 Memo, WPD for CofS, 15 Jan 42, WPD 4627-2. 


only exception would be the retention by the Western Defense Command of 
responsibility for guarding certain vital aircraft factories on the west coast. 
These proposals would have placed the four continental defense commands 
on a common plane, except that the Eastern and Western commands would 
have retained control of defensive air units and responsibility for air defense 
measures and also, of course, would have had the great bulk of the forces 
assigned to defense missions. 46 

There was general agreement on the major purpose of the new GHQ 
recommendations — a sharp reduction in field forces currently assigned to the 
theater commands. General DeWitt vigorously disagreed with the proposal 
to remove the Ninth Corps Area and particularly its control of antisabotage 
measures from his jurisdiction. 47 General DeWitt's position was supported 
wholly or in part in the War Department by the Provost Marshal General, by 
the War Plans Division, by G-i, and by G-3. All agreed that internal 
security in the Western Defense Command should remain a defense command 
responsibility. War Plans wanted both Eastern and Western commands to 
retain it, and also wanted to keep the theater designations. 48 

Before any action could be taken on the GHQ recommendations and the 
objections raised thereto, a new element entered the picture. The decision made 
in February for a sweeping reorganization of the Army high command re- 
quired a further modification of the continental defense organization, since 
the reorganization contemplated placing the corps areas under a new service 
command. General Marshall therefore approved General Clark's GHQ plan 
in principle, but he directed that it be revised to conform to the proposed 
general reorganization of the Army and modified in other minor particulars. 49 

The general reorganization of 9 March 1942 reduced the War 'Department 
to two parts, the civilian offices of the Secretary of War and his assistants, and 
the military staff headed by the Chief of Staff and consisting of the War 
Department General and Special Staff divisions. Under the Chief of Staff, 

46 Memo, Gen Marshall for Gen Clark, 18 Jan 42, OCS 21354-5 ; two Memos of Lt Col Bryan 
L. Milburn, G-3 GHQ, n.d., but about 19 Jan 42, GHQ 320.2 Study on Organization of Eastern 
and Western Theaters; Memo, Gen Clark for SGS, 29 Jan 42, and other papers, OCS 18417-33; 
Memo, Gen Clark for Gen Marshall, 27 Jan 42; Draft Memo, CG FF for TAG, 29 Jan 42. Last 
two in OPD 320 Def of Cont U.S./2. 

47 Pers Ltr, Gen DeWitt to Gen Marshal, 22 Jan 42, OCS 18417-33. 

48 Memo, PMG for DCofS Bryden, 2 Feb 42; Memo/G-i for DCofS Bryden, 1 Feb 42; Memo, 
G^3 for Gen Bryden, 2 Feb 42. All in OPD 320 Def of Cont U.S./2. Memo (not used), WPD 
for CofS, n.d., WPD 4627-2. The mounting suspicion of the west coa st popu lation of Japanese 
descent appears to have been an important factor in these objections. See |ch. V) below. 

49 Memo, Gen McNair for Lt Gen Joseph T. McNarney, 6 Feb 42, GHQ 320.2 Army and 
Corps, binder 1 1 ; Memo for WPD, unsigned and undated, but personally corrected and O.K.'d 
by Gen Marshall, OPD 320 Def of Cont U.S./2. 



three major commands — the Army Ground Forces, the Army Air Forces, 
and the Services of Supply (redesignated Army Service Forces a year later) — 
absorbed many of the old War Department bureaus and assumed control of 
all nondefense functions of the Army within the continental United States. 
GHQ was abolished, its training functions being absorbed by the Army 
Ground Forces, and its operating functions by the War Plans Division. This 
division (soon renamed the Operations Division) became the Chief of Staffs 
command post for directing operations. Thus the continental theaters and 
commands came under the command direction of the War Plans Division, 
while the corps areas (presently renamed service commands) were placed 
under the intermediate control of the Services of Supply. 50 

On the same day that the Army published the general reorganization 
plan, General McNair, who was about to take command of the new Army 
Ground Forces, proposed to General Marshall a scheme for shifting most 
of the larger field force units from continental theater to Army Ground Forces 
control. He also proposed that the First and Fourth Armies remain under the 
Eastern and Western commands but that they be virtually divorced from the 
training of large units (corps and divisions) , most of which would be put 
under the Second and Third Armies. 51 His recommendations were followed 
generall y in the continental reorganization that became effective on 20 March. 
{Map l\ 

In this reorganization the Eastern Theater of Operations was abolished 
and the Eastern Defense Command was established within the same area. 52 
Newfoundland remained under the administrative control of the Eastern 
Defense Command, and a month later the Bermuda Base Command was 
similarly attached to it. The Western Defense Command kept its bounds, 
including Alaska, and its theater status, but at this time the War Department 
intended that it too would cease to be a theater of operations as soon as the 
movement of the bulk of the Japanese population into the interior had been 
completed. All but one of the divisions were taken away from (though not 
necessarily taken out of) the Eastern Defense Command; the Western 
Defense Command kept direct control of two divisions, and the other major 
units within its bounds were placed under a joint control with the Army 
Ground Forces. The Eastern and Western Defense commanders might never- 

50 WD Cir 59, 2 Mar 42. For more detailed accounts of the March 1942 reorganization, see 
Greenfield, Palmer, and Wiley, Organization of Ground Combat Troops, pp. 148—53; and Cline, 
The Operations Division, pp. 90-95. 

51 Memo, CofS GHQ for CG FF, 2 Mar 42, OPD 320 Def of Cont U.S./3. 

52 War Department directives issued shortly thereafter, on 31 Mar and 19 Apr 1942, reduced 
the Eastern Defense Command to the dimensions indicated on Map 3. 

FnriloH 1 1 y f)«4*m« M*|ifjing Ag»4ty Hy d rogripW , T opo|Jf tfihtc Lmnttt 



theless use any troops within their bounds in an emergency. Under the initial 
directive, the Western Defense Command continued to command the Ninth 
Corps Area, including its supply and internal security functions; in the rest 
of the United States the corps areas and all their functions passed to the con- 
trol of the Services of Supply. A fortnight later the War Department also 
removed the Ninth Corps Area from Western Defense Command control, 
but the defense commander retained responsibility for Japanese and enemy 
alien evacuation and for guarding installations, as well as control over troops 
assigned to carry out these activities. The commanding generals of the Second 
and Third Armies continued to command the Central and Southern Defense 
Commands, which were now clearly charged with all Army responsibilities 
for repelling external surface and air attacks on their areas. Since this direc- 
tive specifically exempted the air forces within the Central and Southern 
Defense Commands from defensive missions, the interior defense commands 
could get air support only by calling upon air units assigned to the Eastern 
and Western Defense Commands. The First and Fourth Air Forces remained 
with the Eastern and Western commands, which were also directed to cen- 
tralize control over all antiaircraft units under the Air Forces' interceptor 
commands. 53 

Soon after this reorganization, confusion developed over the control of 
internal security measures. The War Department on 22 April rectified the 
situation by authorizing the defense commanders to establish military areas 
within their commands. Within the military areas, the defense functions of 
the corps area commanders were to be put under the "direction and super- 
visory control" of the defense commanders, and otherwise the defense com- 
manders were made "responsible for the planning and execution of all defense 
measures." 54 Shortly thereafter, and with War Department approval, Generals 
Drum and DeWitt created military areas coextensive with the boundaries of 
their commands, and the Southern Defense Command established a military 
area along the entire Gulf coast. Thus in a wide belt along the coastal frontiers 
of the continental United States the Army continued to maintain unity of 
command and centralized control over all means assigned to defense. 

The Army Air Forces challenged this unity and centralized control in 
June 1942 by raising anew the question of responsibility for continental air 

53 Ltrs, TAG to CG's, 18 Mar and 2 Apr 42, AG 381 ( 3-2-42 ) . 

54 Ltrs, TAG to CG's, 22 Apr and 4 May 42, AG 381 (3-2-42). Remarks of Gen Marshall at 
War Council Mtg, 27 Apr 42, SW Conf, binder 2. The War Department took this action under 
authority of Executive Order 9066, 1 Febr uary 1942, issued then to facilitate the evacuation of 

the Japanese from the west coast. See ch. V 




defense, and specifically by asking that the First and Fourth Air Forces be 
returned to its control. The Air Forces also proposed to reorganize the four 
fighter commands directly responsible for active air defense measures along 
geographic lines very different from those of the defense commands. The 
fighter commands would also be given control of blackouts, dimouts, and 
radio broadcasts. The War Department passed these proposals on to the 
defense commanders and to Army Ground Forces for comment. 55 

Army Ground Forces* single comment on the proposals was, "Centralizing 
air defense would disrupt unity of command in the defense commands. . . . 
Since unity of command is deemed vital, the proposals are not favored." 56 
This was the main reason for the War Department's rejection of the Air 
Forces' requests. Though recognizing that Air control would at least in 
theory permit a more uniform and better integrated continental air defense 
system, the War Department held that "the principle of unity of command 
within the geographical subdivisions is of paramount importance in order 
that the local defense effort may be coordinated under one commander located 
at the scene of action." 57 Besides, as General Drum pointed out, by midsum- 
mer of 1942 the existing continental defense organization was beginning to 
function in as efficient a manner as the limited means of the defense com- 
manders permitted. He added a comment worthy of inclusion in any study 
of organization: 

The success or failure of any organization depends as much on its being thoroughly 
understood by all concerned and competently administered by all echelons as on its 
original form. The present organization includes all elements essential to an effective 
defense grouped under a single responsible commander, has been developed for and 
is particularly well-suited to the assigned mission, and has the advantage of months of 
trial and error. 58 

General DeWitt considered that the proposed changes were "dangerously 
unsound and academic," that they would cripple the entire structure of west 
coast and Alaskan defense, and that in any event it was absurd to centralize 
control of west coast air defense in Washington, three thousand or more miles 
from the scene of action. 59 The views of the defense commanders prevailed, 
and for the time being both the responsibility and the control of air defense 

55 Memo, CG AAF for CofS (Attn: OPD), n.d. but received in OPD 15 Jun 42, OPD 381/71 ; 
Ltr, TAG to CG's, 25 Jun 42, AG 381 (3-2-42). 

56 1st Ind, CG AGF to TAG, 6 Jul 42, on TAG Ltr, 25 Jun 42, OPD 381/71. 

57 Memo, ACofS OPD for CG AAF (Through: DCofS), 1 Aug 42, WDCSA 381 Nat Def. 

58 1 st Ind, Hq EDC and First Army to CofS WD, 30 Jun 42, on TAG Ltr, 25 Jun 42, OPD 

59 1st Ind, Hq WDC and Fourth Army to TAG WD, 1 Jul 42, on TAG Ltr, 25 Jun 42, AG 
381 (3-2-42). 



means remained with the Eastern and Western Defense Commands. The 
Southern and Central Defense Commands kept the responsibility but never 
did get independent control of active air defense elements. 

Before Pearl Harbor no one raised the issue of Army-Navy unity of com- 
mand over continental United States defense forces. Immediately thereafter, 
the Chief of the Army Air Forces proposed that he be given command of all 
Army, Navy, and Marine Corps air operations launched from continental 
bases. General Arnold pointed out that in accordance with the Rainbow 5 
plan the Army Air Forces was responsible for the active air defense of the 
continental United States, and that the very limited number of combat and 
patrol aircraft available to both services seemed to require centralized control 
of those at hand. The War Plans Division recommended to General Marshall 
the establishment of air unity of command only on the more exposed west 
coast. 00 The creation of continental theaters of operations during December 
and the allocation to them of active air defense responsibility changed one 
premise underlying General Arnold's proposal; and for the time being Gen- 
eral Marshall withheld action on it. 

The devastating submarine offensive that developed along the Atlantic 
coast from January 1942 onward, and the continued threat of carrier-based 
air attack on the west coast, required as much offshore air reconnaissance as 
the Army and Navy could provide, as well as bombardment aviation ready 
to strike at submarine and surface vessels. The conduct of air reconnaissance 
and bombardment operations against ships (unless they comprised a hostile 
invasion force) was a Navy mission, and the theoretical argument for Navy 
unity of command over such operations was sound enough. But in early 1942 
the Navy had very few shore-based planes available for such work, and the 
Army had to provide the bulk of the planes so employed on both coasts. The 
Army's air arm in early 1942 was itself too short of trained bombardment 
units to assign any of them permanently to reconnaissance, which from the 
Air Forces' point of view was distinctly a secondary mission. Besides, by the 
end of January both continental theater commanders had worked out satis- 
factory arrangements with the Navy for co-ordination of air operations over 
the sea. At General Marshall's request, General Clark of GHQ had also 
investigated this problem on the west coast in late January. He joined with 
the local commanders in recommending against any attempt to establish air 
unity of command there. The Navy had so few planes that almost all of the 
reconnaissance was being done by the Army anyway, and the co-ordination of 

60 Memo, CofAAF for CofS, n.d. but between 7 and 13 Dec 41, OPD Exec 8, bk. 1; Memo, 
ACofS WPD for CofS, 13 Dec 41, OCS 21278-7, commenting on this proposal. 



Army and Navy air operations was as good as could be expected under the 
circumstances. 61 

The Navy rather than the Army was the first to propose a system of com- 
mand unity for continental frontiers. This development came about in con- 
nection with a reorganization and redesignation of naval coastal defense 
forces. "Sea frontiers" were replacing "naval coastal frontiers"; and these 
sea frontiers, which were to contain almost all of the Navy's coastal combat 
forces (ships and planes) , were being put under fleet command. The Navy's 
fleet commander, Admiral Ernest J. King, proposed that the sea frontiers 
also command all Army air units allocated to overwater operations. General 
Marshall countered with the proposal "that full unity of command in all 
continental coastal frontiers and Alaska be vested in the Army over all naval 
forces which do not normally accompany the fleet." 62 

Informal discussion between General Marshall and Admiral King in 
mid-February produced a tentative agreement on continental unity of com- 
mand. This arrangement would have placed the Navy's sea frontier com- 
manders under Army command except during fleet operations off the coast. 
It would have put Army harbor defense forces except antiaircraft units, and 
all other Army units engaged in operations "involving missions in or over 
sea areas," under the Navy sea frontier commanders. Thus Army overwater 
air operations would have been under intermediate Navy command, but the 
Army theater or defense commander would have retained authority to allot, 
withhold, or rotate air units for this purpose as he desired. During adjacent 
fleet operations, the normally allotted sea frontier forces (Army and Navy) 
would have been under fleet command, but this command would not have 
extended to other Army continental defense forces. Details of the arrange- 
ment were still unsettled when General Marshall and Admiral King trans- 
mitted an interim joint directive on 25 March vesting the Navy sea frontier 
commanders immediately with unity of command "over all Army air units 
allocated by defense commanders for operations over the sea for the protec- 
tion of shipping and for antisubmarine and other operations against enemy 
seaborne activities." 63 

61 Min, War Council Mtg, 26 Jan 42, SW Conf, binder 2; Memo, Gen Clark, DCofS GHQ, 
for Gen Marshall, 27 Jan 42, OPD 320 Def of Cont U.S./2. 

62 Memo, Adm King for U.S. CsofS, 5 Feb 42; Memo, CofS for Adm King, 11 Feb 42. Both 
in WPD 2917-44. 

63 Memo, ACofS WPD for Gen Arnold, 16 Feb 42, WPD 2917-46; Remarks of Gen Marshall 
at War Council Mtgs, 16 Feb and 23 Mar 42, SW Conf, binder 2; Memo, Adm King for Gen 
Marshall, 19 Mar 42; Jt Dispatch, CofS and CinC to CG's, 25 Mar 42. Last two in OPD 384 



Instead of the agreement contemplated during February and March, the 
Army and Navy in April agreed on a different plan for continental coastal 
command — the essential difference being that in a "state of non-invasion" 
unity of command would not extend beyond the scope of the 25 March direc- 
tive. If invasion threatened, the Army and Navy chiefs were to declare either 
a "state of fleet-opposed invasion" or a "state of Army-opposed invasion." 
In the first case, the only change in the normal command relationship would 
be to put under Army command such local naval defense forces as were 
exempt from sea frontier command. In the second case, the Army would 
command all coastal defense forces, including those of the Navy's sea fron- 
tiers. Admiral King and General Marshall on 18 April declared a "state of 
non-invasion" to exist, and within the continental defense commands (except 
in Alaska) this condition remained unchanged throughout the war. Unity of 
command in the continental United States during World War II was there- 
fore confined to Navy command of Army air units allocated to the Navy's 
sea frontier commands for overwater missions. 64 

After mid-1942 the need for continental defense activity progressively 
declined, but it was not until September 1943 that the First and Fourth Armies 
were separated from the Eastern and Western Defense Commands, and the 
First and Fourth Air Forces taken away from them and restored to the Army 
Air Forces. Thereafter the theory of Army unity of command was maintained 
by prescribing that, with War Department approval, the commanding gen- 
erals of the Eastern and Western Defense Commands might assume command 
of any air units within their territorial jurisdiction to meet a serious hostile 
threat. 65 On 27 October 1943 the War Department terminated the Western 
Defense Command's theater status, detached Alaska from it, and designated 
the latter a separate theater of operations effective 1 November 1943. The 
Eastern Defense Command absorbed the functions and area of the Central 
Defense Command at the beginning of 1944, and a year later similarly 
absorbed the Southern Defense Command. Thus the Army's continental 
defense structure remaining in 1945 was a mere shell of that created in 
December 1942, but organizationally it still reflected the principles advocated 
in prewar planning of wartime unified command responsibility and over-all 
territorial coverage. 

6i Jt Dispatch, CofS and CinC to CGs, 18 Apr 42; Ltr, TAG to CG's, 11 May 42. Both in 
OPD 384 (4-3-42). 

65 Hq EDC and First Army, GO 15, 9 Sep 43; Hq WDC and Fourth Army, GO 87, 14 Sep 
43; Memo, CG AAF for CofS (Through: OPD), 10 Aug 43; Memo, ACofS OPD for CofS, 
5 Sep 43. AIL in AG 381 (3-2-42 ) . 


Preparations for Continental Defense 

Until the nation went to war in December 1941 the military preparations 
for guarding the continental United States centered around four lines of 
activity: harbor defense, defense against air attack, civilian defense, and the 
protection of vital nonmilitary installations. Although primarily concerned 
with measures for protection against bombardment from the air, the Army 
did not entirely neglect the fixed coastal defenses that offered limited pro- 
tection against surface attack. Seacoast defense against a determined surface 
attack or invasion would have required the integrated employment of all 
types of Army mobile ground and air forces in addition to the harbor defense 
units, but plans for employing mobile forces for this purpose remained com- 
paratively nebulous until after the United States entered the war. Prewar plans 
for an integrated employment of the major air defense elements — aviation, 
antiaircraft artillery, and an aircraft warning service — were far more concrete, 
though actual preparations on the eve of Pearl Harbor left much to be de- 
sired. Civilian defense, associated with air defense but not considered a 
direct Army responsibility, received a good deal of military attention during 
the prewar period that helped to limit military commitments thereafter. On 
the other hand, the Army had to do much more when war came than it had 
planned to do in safeguarding nonmilitary installations. 

Harbor Defenses 

For more than a century before World War II harbor defenses had con- 
stituted the primary element of the means employed by the Army for sea- 
coast defense. Harbor defenses consisted of permanently installed guns of 
various calibers, which could be supplemented in an emergency by mobile 
coast artillery guns and controlled mine fields. Their purpose was, first of all, 
to guard the defended area against invasion and capture; secondly, to protect 
the area against naval bombardment, and shipping against submarine or 
surface torpedo attack; and finally, to cover the seaward approaches to the 



principal naval anchorages sufficiently far out to enable ships of the United 
States Navy to emerge and meet attack. Indeed, the location of naval shore 
installations and fleet anchorages was the most important factor in determin- 
ing the location of Army harbor defenses, and the Navy's insistence on the 
necessity of such defenses was the principal reason for their retention and 
improvement during World War II. Adequate protection of bases and ships 
in port freed the Navy for offensive action. The War Department was also 
well aware of the fact that the maintenance of permanent seacoast defenses 
gave major coastal cities a sense of security which might help to ensure 
against an unsound dispersion of the Army's own mobile ground and air 
forces in a war emergency. 1 

For a good many years before World War II the Army had recognized 
the inadequacy of existing harbor defenses. They offered no protection against 
aerial bombardment, and, since most seacoast guns were outranged by modern 
naval armament, they could no longer guarantee defense against naval bom- 
bardment. In studying the situation in 1923, the War Department decided 
that either a larger fleet or a much larger number of aircraft would provide 
more effective protection for harbor areas than the existing defenses, but it 
also held that the use of either would be highly uneconomical. It concluded, 
"When it comes to preventing enemy ships from sailing into a harbor and 
taking possession, the cheapest and most reliable defense appears to be guns 
and submarine mines." 2 

Primarily for the latter reason, the General Staff decided in 1923 that 
permanent seacoast fortifications should still be considered essential. It 
recommended the abandonment of a number of harbor defenses that were 
no longer of military value and concentration on the improvement of those 
remaining, particularly by providing them with new long-range guns and 
more antiaircraft protection. It also urged more combat aviation to supple- 
ment harbor defenses. It called for the retention of permanent defenses for 
eighteen coastal areas — the same eighteen that were to be included in the 
modernization program of 1940 and that still possessed fixed defenses in 
1 945. 3 

1 Memos, WPD for CofS, 8 Mar 23 and 6 Aug 31, WPD 1105 and 1105-55; unsigned and 
undated study (Jan 41?), title: Harbor Defenses, Their Purposes, Composition, and Organization, 
WPD 1105-69; Joint Action, par. 19. See FM 4-5, 29 Jul 40, for details of Coast Artillery organ- 
ization and tactics. 

2 Memo, WPD for CofS, 8 Mar 23, WPD 1105. This study, approved on 17 Apr 1923, re- 
mained the basic definition of War Department policy with respect to harbor defenses until the eve 
of World War II. 

* Ibid 1 Rpt of Harbor Def Bd, 27 Jul 40, AG 602 (4-30-40), sec. 1 ; tab A, OPD Interoffice 



Between 1923 and the onset of the war emergency in the early summer 
of 1940, the Army gave a good deal of thought to the improvement of harbor 
defenses. It drafted new defense projects for each harbor area between 1930 
and 1932, and in 1931 it established a Harbor Defense Board to supervise 
the execution of these projects and outlined the basic policies that were to 
guide the board in its recommendations. As a result of the growing tension 
between the United States and Japan, most of the meager funds available 
for harbor protection between 1933 and 1938 were spent on improvements 
along the Pacific coast. The threat of war in Europe in 1939 prompted larger 
appropriations and the resumption of work on gun installations along the 
Atlantic front. The end of naval armament limitations during the 1930's had 
also re-emphasized the need for better long-range guns; to meet this need 
the Army had adopted the 16-inch barbette carriage gun as the standard 
harbor defense weapon against capital ships, but only a few had been 
installed. Existing harbor defense projects called for many other improve- 
ments, and it was estimated in February 1940 that to complete approved proj- 
ects would cost about $60,000,000.* Three months later, the Chief of Coast 
Artillery described the existing defenses in these terms: 

With but few exceptions our seacoast batteries are outmoded and today are woefully 
inadequate. Nearly every battery is outranged by guns aboard ship that are of the same 
caliber. More alarming than this is the fact that every battery on the Atlantic Coast, 
and all but two of the batteries on the Pacific Coast, have no overhead cover so are 
open to attack from the air. 5 

Despite his protests, the War Department decided that the general shortage 
of antiaircraft guns was so critical that no mobile and no more fixed antiair- 
craft guns could be included in harbor defense projects. 6 

The Harbor Defense Board was engaged in a resurvey of seacoast defense 
needs at the time of France's downfall in June 1940. 7 Until then, the pos- 

Memo, 24 Oct 45, OPD 660.2/62. From Maine to the State of Washington, these locations were: 
Portland, Portsmouth, Boston, New Bedford, entrances to Narragansett Bay, eastern entrance to 
Long Island Sound, New York Harbor, the Delaware and Chesapeake entrances, Charleston, Key 
West, Pensacola, Galveston, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the entrances to the 
Columbia River and Puget Sound. The Navy considered all of the defenses except those at Gal- 
veston essential to its purposes. Memo, WPD for CofS, 6 Aug 31, WPD 1105-55. 

4 Various papers and studies, WPD 1105 and WPD 3617; Ltr, SW to Senator Augustine 
Lonergan, 19 Aug 32, WPD 3793-40. 

5 Memo, CofCA for CofS, 31 May 40, WPD 1956-77. 

6 Memo, WPD for TAG, 26 Jul 40, WPD 1956-77; Memo, WPD for TAG, 31 Mar 41, 
WPD 1956-92. 

7 In March the Veterans' Administration had raised anew the old question as to whether the 
Army had any more posts that might properly be abandoned. This had initiated a resurvey of 
harbor defense posts and needs. 



sibility of any naval attack on the American coast line had appeared very 
remote; thereafter, at least until the fate of the British and French fleets 
became known, the United States faced the real possibility of serious naval 
inferiority in either the Atlantic or the Pacific. The new naval outlook resulted 
in an enlargement of the current survey into a complete reassessment of 
harbor defenses. 8 

The board's report of 27 July 1940 recommended the general adoption 
of the 16-inch gun as the primary weapon and the 6-inch gun as the secondary 
weapon in all fixed harbor defenses. It proposed that defense projects include 
27 new 16-inch two-gun casemated batteries and partial air cover for 23 
primary batteries (including ten 16-inch) already installed or previously 
approved. The 16-inch guns had a maximum range of about twenty-five miles, 
and, at least theoretically, could keep any hostile ship at a safe distance from 
any of the twelve harbor areas where they were to be installed. The board 
also proposed the construction of 50 new 6-inch two-gun barbette carriage 
batteries, which would provide long-range fire (about fifteen miles max- 
imum) against cruisers and other lighter ships, and which would greatly 
reinforce the 63 existing secondary batteries (mostly 6-inch and 3-inch semi- 
modern barbette carriage guns) that were to be retained. Its plan called for 
the abandonment of 128 obsolete and obsolescent seacoast batteries as soon 
as the 77 new batteries were installed. Thereafter, too, coastal defenses could 
be manned with substantially fewer troops. The board estimated that the 
whole program would require three years to complete and would cost about 
$82,000,000 — less than the cost of one new battleship. 9 

After careful consideration the General Staff approved the proposed 
modernization program. Informal questioning of the senior members of the 
Navy's War Plans Division elicited the unanimous opinion that, in the 
absence of the fleet, land-based aviation alone could not be considered a 
sufficient defense against naval attack. In the Army only the Chief of the 
Air Corps disagreed with this opinion. He thought that airplanes could be 
safely substituted for land-based guns in coastal defense. The formal ap- 
proval given the modernization program in early September 1940 was accom- 
panied by a recommendation that $62,000,000, or about three-fourths of the 

s On the general situation and other American defense preparations in June and July 1940, 
see Conn and Fairchild, Framework of Hemisphere Defense, eh. II. 

!> Ur, Maj Gen Walter C. Baker (CofCWS), President, Harbor Def Bd, to TAG, 27 Jul 40, 
AG 602 (4 -30 -40), sec. 1. In 1940 the board consisted of the Chiefs of Coast Artillery, Engineers, 
Ordnance, Chemical Warfare Service, and Air Corps, as well as the Chief Signal Officer, with 
the senior member being the presiding officer. The board's recommendations with respect to 
mobile coast artillery are mentioned below. 



estimated total cost, be alloted for construction and contract authorization 
through 30 June 1942. 10 

The planning, construction, and emplacement of seacoast guns and their 
auxiliary equipment took a long time under the best of circumstances. This 
was particularly true of the big guns. From the beginning the 1940 moderniza- 
tion program had to compete with the general and rapid expansion of the 
whole Army, and the program was also slow r ed by the continuously expanding 
naval construction program. By July 1941 only four 16-inch gun batteries 
were ready for action, and construction work had been started on only five 
others. By then it appeared that the 16-inch gun program could not possibly 
be completed for several years and that in the meantime the planned expan- 
sion of American air and sea power would make the full program unneces- 
sary. After rearguing the merits of airplanes versus guns in seacoast defense, 
the War Department in the late summer of 1941 decided to limit active work 
to those batteries that could be completed by 30 June 1944. As a result all 
work on fourteen of the thirty-seven 16-inch batteries planned for the con- 
tinental United States was indefinitely deferred. 11 The expansion of overseas 
base activity during 1941 was an important factor in delaying the continental 
6-inch gun program, the War Department in November giving priority to 
the completion of twenty 6-inch gun batteries in outlying bases. 12 In con- 
sequence, the condition of the continental fixed harbor defenses on the eve 
of Pearl Harbor was not much different from what it had been before the 
adoption of the modernization program fifteen months earlier. 

The Army's mobile coast artillery in the continental United States in 
December 1941 consisted of six tractor-drawn 155-mm. gun regiments and 
parts of one 8-inch gun railway regiment. At this same time there were 
thirty-one regiments and three separate battalions of fixed-gun harbor defense 
units in the United States or, roughly, five times as many fixed-gun forces as 
there were mobile. 13 Plans in the i93o's had contemplated using a much 
larger proportion of mobile guns, particularly of railway guns, to supple- 
ment fixed-gun defenses in wartime. But railway artillery had such limited 
tactical mobility and such extreme vulnerability to air attack that it had been 

10 Various papers, dated 7 Aug-11 Sep 40, AG 602 (4-30-40), sec. 1, and WPD 4279-2. The 
program was officially approved on 5 Sept, and the TAG letter announcing it was dated 11 Sept. 
1L Various papers, dated 2 July-2 Sep 41. WPD 4279-21. 

rj 1st Ind, TAG for CofCA, 3 Nov 41, on Memo, CofCA for WPD, 4 Oct 41, AG 660.2 
(9-11-40), sec. 1. 

13 Two studies by Lt Col. Edward M. Harris, prepared in August 1949, summarize the organi- 
zation and deployment of Army seacoast artillery units from World War I through World War II. 



all but discarded as a coastal defense weapon before the United States entered 
the war. 14 After Pearl Harbor, railway guns were used at a few east and west 
coast locations but were replaced as soon as other weapons became available. 
Pending the completion of approved 6-inch gun projects, the Army used 
155-mm. gun batteries to cover their positions; and sixteen batteries of 
these guns had been installed along the Atlantic front by December 1941. 
During the war the Army made much wider use of tractor-drawn batteries, 
placing them at many points along the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts. 
It used at the maximum seventy-two 2-gun batteries, both to bolster 
permanent harbor defenses and to provide temporary protection to ports that 
had no fixed-gun installations. For a while during 1942 the Army also drafted 
field artillery batteries of 75-mm. guns and 105-mm. howitzers into coastal 
defense service. This proceeding was reversed at the beginning of 1944 when 
the Army discontinued the use of mobile guns in coast defense at home and 
put coast artillery weapons of this type into field service. 15 

As an integral part of harbor defenses the Army for many years had plan- 
ned to install strings of electrically controlled mines across the ship channels 
and narrows of port approaches. Army mine fields were intended primarily to 
prevent submarines from slipping into inner harbor areas. Controlled mine 
fields, as provided for in harbor defense projects, were quickly installed in 
many harbor entrances after the declaration of war. They caused much trou- 
ble, since the mines then available were of a buoyant type that rested only 
fifteen feet below the water's surface, and passing ships frequently fouled the 
connecting cables. In 1943 the Army replaced the buoyant mine with a newly 
developed ground mine that all friendly ships could clear without danger and 
that had an explosive charge powerful enough to destroy any sort of enemy 
vessel that might attempt to intrude. Ground mine fields remained in position 
until the summer of 1945. 16 

During the war Army harbor defenses were further improved by the in- 
troduction of radar and by the provision of new means for dealing with fast- 

14 Memo, WPD for CofS, 8 Apr 39, WPD 3617-39; Rpt of Harbor Def Bd, 27 Jul 40, AG 
602 (4-30-40), sec. 1. 

15 History of the Eastern Defense Command (hereafter cited as Hist of EDC), OCMH, ch. 4, 
and History of the Western Defense Command, 17 March 1941-30 Sept 1945, OCMH (hereafter 
cited as Hist of WDC), ch. 14. 

1G Memo, CofCA for ACofS WPD, 8 May 41, WPD 2521-81, and other papers in this WPD 
file and in AG 660.3 (8—23—41) ; Memo, CofS for CNO, 10 Feb 42, tab E, title: Misc Information 
Concerning Use of Controlled Mines During War, WPD 1105-70; Hist of EDC, pp. 26-28; 
Study by Col Herbert C. Reuter, 5 Sep 49, A Summary of Historical Information Pertaining to 
Controlled Submarine Mining, prepared in connection with the transfer of submarine mine 
responsibility from the Army to the Navy in 1949, copy in OCMH. 



moving torpedo boats. Radar, though never completely reliable, normally 
permitted the operation of Army guns and searchlights at their maximum 
range instead of at a visual range determined by weather conditions. 17 Studies 
in late 1940 convinced the Army that it had no adequate weapons to deal 
with motor torpedo boats. Coast Artillery School tests in 1941 indicated that 
the best weapon would be the 90-mm. antiaircraft gun; but, because of the 
shortage of such guns, existing 3-inch fixed guns had to serve as makeshift 
antimotor torpedo boat weapons until late 1942. Thereafter the Army in- 
stalled special antimotor torpedo boat defenses along the Pacific and north- 
east Atlantic coasts, ideally in a grouping of two fixed and two mobile 90-mm. 
guns, and two mobile 37-mm. or 40-mm. antiaircraft guns. Toward the end 
of the war some of the fixed 90-mm. guns were about the only actively 
manned Army harbor defense elements, and incidentally they were also the 
only shore-based antiaircraft weapons ready to operate as such along the 
east coast. 18 

It was the Navy's responsibility to control all ship movements within de- 
fended harbor areas, and the Navy supplemented the Army's defenses by 
installing harbor nets and booms, by planting contact mines and detection 
devices in outer harbor approaches, and by conducting offshore patrols. 19 
Mine sweeping was also the Navy's business, and German mine-laying sub- 
marines gave the sweepers some work of this sort to do along the Atlantic 
coast between May and November 1942. 20 

In each harbor the device for managing all of the defenses was the harbor 
entrance control post, manned by both Army and Navy officers. A joint di- 
rective defined the mission of these posts as follows: 

To collect and disseminate information of activities in the defensive sea area; to con- 
trol unescorted commercial shipping in the defensive coastal area; and to take prompt 
and decisive action to operate the elements of the harbor defense, in order to deny 
enemy action within the defensive coastal area. 21 

Harbor entrance control posts began to appear during 1941. Throughout the 
war they were maintained at all defended harbors, providing the main link 

17 Hist of EDC, p. 29; for types of harbor defense radar, see Dulany Terrett, The Signal 
Corps: The Emergency, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1956) 
(hereafter cited as Terrett, The Emergency), app. 

18 Various papers, WPD 3617-63 and WPD 1105-103; Hist of EDC, p. 25. 

10 J obit Action, ch. Ill, and Memo, CNO for Commandants, Naval Districts, 5 Nov 40, sub: 
Jt Def of Harbors, WPD 1105-65, describe the respective responsibilities of the two services dur- 
ing World War II. 

20 See Samuel Eliot Morison, "History of United States Naval Operations in World War II," 
vol I> The Battle of the Atlantic: September 1939-May 7943 (Boston: Little, Brown and Com- 
pany, 1950) (hereafter cited as Morison, Battle of the Atlantic), app. IV; ch. IV, below. 

21 Jt Cir, approved by CNO, 29 May 41, and by CofS, 23 Jun 41, distributed by Ltr, TAG to 
CG's, 25 Jun 41, AG 660.2 (5-29-41). 



between higher command headquarters and all subordinate elements of a 
harbor defense. It was generally believed during the war that these posts per- 
mitted a close interservice co-operation that gave the whole harbor defense 
system a high degree of potential efficiency, but the enemy's failure really to 
challenge the system leaves this a matter for conjecture. 

Until j 940 fixed harbor defenses were main rained on a caretaking basis, 
and the guns were not actually manned except at a few forts for training pur- 
poses. Regular Army harbor defense forces numbered about 4,200 men 
in 1939 — less than one-third of the number regularly maintained in harbor 
defenses before World War I and less than one-centh of the number that 
would have been required ro man the existing equipment with only one relief. 
Army mobilization plans in 1938 and 1939 contemplated that the National 
Guard would provide the bulk of the approximately 50,000 troops that would 
be needed for harbor defenses In wartime, but National Guard units of this 
sort numbered only 7,000 men in 1939.^ There was little change in harbor 
defense strengths until the fall of 1940, when the induction of the National 
Guard into federal service permitted the partial manning of all active 
instailations. As the rehabilitation and reinforcement of harbor defense posts 
continued through J94T, units were recruited to full strength and all fixed 
guns were manned and put in operating condition. By the fall of 1941 the 
strength of harbor defense forces was approximately 45,000, and they were 
almost the only troops specifically assigned by the Army to continental de- 
fense until the formal entry into war in December. 20 

War and the establishment of theater- type commands on the Atlantic and 
Pacific coasts led to an increase in harbor defense forces. The January T942 
Troop Basis allotted harbor forces a strength of 54,000, and their actual 
strength was about 70,000 from the spring of 1942 until mid-1943. 24 ^ n tne 
early months of the war, harbor defense forces manned obsolete as well as 
more modern weapons. War Department orders generally ended this practice 
before the close of 1942, and most of the coastal defense mortars and disap- 
pearing carriage guns were dismantled during 1943/® 

-CCS Memo for Red, 27 Oct 3^ WPD 1956-54; Memo, Secy, Army and Navy Munitions 
Board, for ASW, 24 Feb 39, AG =j&r (2-24-39) I Memo, WPD for CofS, Sep 39, WPD 3674-17; 
Memo, WPD for CofS, 15 Dec 39, WPD 3674-18. 

23 Hist of EDC, ch. 2, and History of the Northeastern Settor, Eastern Defense Command, 
OCMH (hereafter cited as Hist of NE Sector, EDC), m 1-2, give a brief survey of Atlantic 
coast developments during this period. The latter is filed with retired EDC records. 

24 Memo, G-3 for WPD T 15 Jan 42, WPD 3674-83. The higher actual strength resulted 
principally from the temporary use of field artillery units during 1942, and thereafter from the 
overstrength* authorized during the transition from general to limited service. 

25 Ltr, SW to CG s Def Comds, 18 Jul 42, OPD 660.2/23 ; Hist of EDC, p. 25, 



Six-Inch Gun Emplacement on Jasper Parapet, Charleston, S.C 

The War Department tried to speed up the modernization program after 
the outbreak of war, with indifferent success. Though site construction for 
the whole program could have been completed within a year or so, manufac- 
ture of weapons and their accessories faced competition not only from the 
naval building program but also from the production of more urgently 
needed Army weapons — tanks, for example. 26 By September 1942 the pros- 
pect of completing the modernization of heavy seacoast artillery during the 
war appeared dim, and even if built it seemed even more unlikely that the 
guns would ever be used. With Navy concurrence, the Army cut back the 16- 
inch gun program by abandoning ten continental battery projects previously 
deferred. On paper this move actually increased the number of currently au- 

2ft Memo, G-4 for TAG, 26 Dec 41, and accompanying OCS Memo for Red, OCS 18585-95; 
D/F, WPD to SOS, 26 Mar 42, OPD 660. 2/2. 



thorized projects, but subsequent cancellations cut the big-gun program much 
further. 27 During 1943 and 1944 substantial reductions also occurred in the 
6-inch gun program, principally because the Army had a much more pressing 
need for field artillery weapons. 

When the war ended the future of coast artillery was still uncertain. The 
Joint Chiefs of Staff had decided in early 1945, "As to major caliber and 
minor caliber fixed seacoast artillery, all that we now have, emplaced in con- 
tinental and overseas harbor defenses, should be retained and maintained in 
serviceable condition, with the recognition that subsequent developments may 
demonstrate the desirability of substituting some type of new weapon there- 
for." 28 "Current OPD thought" in October 1945 held that, until new weapons 
capable of performing Coast Artillery missions were developed, existing in- 
stallations ought to be maintained in the best possible condition and provided 
with modern fire control instruments. Between 1940 and 1945 the modern- 
ization program had cost more than $220,000,000, and it had provided the 
continental United States with nearly two hundred modern and modernized 
guns — including nineteen 16-inch and forty-eight 6-inch long-range bat- 
teries. 29 Though the total number of gun installations had declined by more 
than one half since May 1940, the later equipment was far superior to the 
earlier in its capacity to resist attack by large ships. In 1945 no attack of this 
sort on the continental United States could be foreseen for many years to 
come, and when the war ended all seacoast artillery except a few 90-mm. 
antiaircraft guns was placed in a strictly caretaking status. 

Air Defense Preparations 

When the GHQ Air Force was established in March 1935, its principal 
mission was the defense of continental coastal frontiers. Two months later 
the War Department issued a general directive on air defense to the four 
army commanders, designed to stimulate planning and preparations for an 
integrated defense by aviation, antiaircraft artillery, and an Army-controlled 
aircraft warning service against air attacks that might be launched against the 
continental United States, as well as for "passive" measures for the protection 

27 Memo, Chief, S&P Group, for Chief, North American Theater, OPD, 30 Sep 43, OPD 
660.2/50; Ltr, OPD to COM1NCH, 31 Oct 42, AG 660.2 (9-11-40), sec. 1; Ltr, COMINCH to 
CofS, 8 Nov 42; Memo, CG SOS for CofEngrs, CSigO, CofOrd, and CofCWS, 20 Nov 42. Last 
two in OPD 660.2/23. 

28 JCS Policy Memo 15, 20 Mar 45. 

29 Memo, Chief, Logistics Group, for ACofS OPD, 24 Oct 45, and accompanying tab A, OPD 



of the civilian population and industry. 30 In accordance with this directive 
some preliminary planning was done and test air defense exercises were held 
during 1937 and 1938. In the latter year the acceptance in national policy of 
a new theory of air defense, which called for major reliance on the projection 
of air power outside the United States to interdict the establishment of hostile 
air bases elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere, led in the spring and summer 
of 1939 to a general reassessment of the nation's aviation policy and its 
means for air defense. 31 


The report of an Army Air Board submitted in June 1939 embodied the 

basic policies that guided the development and employment of Army aviation 

during World War II. The report designated three basic missions for military 

aviation, the air defense of the continental United States, similar defense of 

overseas possessions, and "operations outside of the United States and its 

possessions as required by the situation." It defined the continental defense 

mission in these terms: 

To provide in the United States (zone of the interior) the necessary close-in air 
defense of our most vulnerable and important areas, to include, where necessary, reason- 
able protection against off-shore carrier attacks. These forces are not intended to repel 
a mass air attack or to afford air protection to our entire coastline, but are designed to 
limit the effectiveness of air raids upon our exposed vital areas. 32 

The Air Board recommended the establishment and maintenance of nine 
major air bases, which would ring the continental United States from New 
England to the Pacific Northwest. These were to be the main operating bases 
for the approximately fourteen tactical groups that were to be maintained by 
the GHQ Air Force. This force, which would contain 104 heavy, 84 medium, 
and 142 light bombardment airplanes and 324 pursuit planes, was now to 
have a mission of performing frontier defense, reinforcing overseas posses- 
sions, and furnishing expeditionary striking forces within the Western Hem- 
isphere as required. The board based its estimate of the air strength needed 
for continental defense, as well as for the other purposes mentioned, on a 
careful assessment of the aviation strength and capabilities of Germany, 
Italy, and Japan. Despite their ominous and growing air power, these nations 
in 1939 did not have any planes capable of even a one-way transoceanic flight 

30 Ltr, TAG to CG's, 21 May 35, AG 660.2 AA (5-15-35). 

31 See Conn and Fairchild, Framework of Hemisphere Defense, ch. I; Craven and Cate, eds., 
Plans and Early Operations, chs. II and IV. 

32 Tab B, Rpt of Air Bd, 26 Jun 39, WPD 3748-17. 


with a bomb load for a direct attack on the United States, and as late as Feb- 
ruary 1942 Germany had only a few planes that could have been used for this 
purpose. If the United States was successful in preventing the establishment 
of hostile air bases in the hemisphere, then only carrier-based or render-based 
planes could pose a real threat of air attack. Japan had six: carriers built, and 
Germany was constructing two; but, because of American naval strength in 
the Pacific, it was assumed that no more than two enemy carriers would be 
employed at any one time in hit-and-run raids against either coast of the 
United States, and that even raids of this sort would be fairly improbable. 
The chief danger, as the planners saw it in 1939 and indeed throughout the 
prewar period, was that which, if France and Great Britain were defeated, 
would come from the projection of German and Italian air power by stages 
across the North Atlantic ot from Africa ro Brazil in the southern Atlantic. 
The continental air bases were therefore to be used not only for home defense 
but also as springboards for the projection of American air power ro meet 
this danger. 53 

In a reassessment of rhc air defense situation after the outbreak of war in 
Europe, a new Air Defense Board decided that the continental United States 
needed only 68 medium bombers and 270 pursuit planes specifically for de- 
fense purposes. This estimate was reaffirmed in May 1940, on the eve of Ger- 
many's onslaught against the West, because it was believed that a force of 
this strength could deal adequately with a two-carrier attack on either coast, 3 * 
The German triumph in France produced a quick upward revision of the 
Army's over-all aviation goal, but no provision was made during the summer 
of 1940 or in the succeeding months of mobilization for allotting more planes 
to continental defense, Indeed, in the build-up of air power under the new 
54-group program, planes were allotted among the wings and, in 1941, 
among the air forces in the continental United States without any particular 
reference to continental defense. 

Despite its seeming unreadiness for action, not only because of its rapid 
expansion but also because of the drain of American aircraft production to 
the fighting nations of the Old World, the Air Force Combat Command of 
1 94 1 (the successor of the GHQ Air Force) had a good deal of latent combat 
strength, which it was to exhibit as soon as the United States plunged into the 

Two WPD Aide-mimohes, May 30, WPD 3807-3'; tabs X and Y, Rpt of Air Bd, 26 Jun 
39, WPD 374&-17; Memo, WPD for CofS. 7 Aug 59, and Ptchd tab i2> WPD 4078-" ; tabs 
B and Q Memo, WPD for CofS, 21 Dec 3 9> WPD 3807-41 ; Memo, CofAS for WPD, 21 Feb 42, 
WPD 1398-n. 

** Tab C, Memo, WPD foe CofS, ai Dec 3* WPD 3807-41; tab F, Rpt of Comm z T Air 
Def Bd> 3 Hay 40, OPD Exec xa, item 17- 



war. In June 1941 its 22 bombardment groups contained only about a quarter 
of the airplanes they were supposed to have, and its 17 pursuit groups had an 
even smaller proporcion of their required strength in planes. Between June 
and November 1941 the number of combat aircraft fit for action more than 
doubled, and the Air Force Combat Command on 30 November had about 
480 bombardment and 650 pursuit planes of modern and semimodern types; 
but only 4 of its bombardment and 5 of its pursuit groups had anywhere near 
their full complement of planes. A state of war brought a quick redistribution 
of strength in December 1941 and January 1942, which gave the continental 
United States more aviation protection than had been planned for it at any 
time before Pearl Harbor. 35 

Antiaircraft Artillery 

The first significant step toward improving continental antiaircraft artil- 
lery protection came in June 1937, primarily because of growing tension be- 
tween the United States and Japan. This was a plan for increasing the Army's 
3-inch antiaircraft gun strength from 135 to 472, and it included the procure- 
ment of enough guns to equip thirty-four Regular Army and National Guard 
mobile antiaircraft regiments. At that time the Army had only five skeleton- 
ized regiments of this sort in continental service, and most of its 3-inch weap- 
ons were installed as fixed guns in harbor defenses. In effect, the antiaircraft 
guns then available could have done little more than help protect the harbor 
defenses themselves. The new plan promised to provide enough weapons by 
the summer of 1940 to give at least some protection to other military instal- 
lations and to industrial areas along the coasts. 36 

The Army also had a long-range plan for augmenting its antiaircraft 
strength as a phase of the Protective Mobilization Plan first prepared in 1933. 
Under this plan and its four projected augmentations, the number of antiair- 
craft regiments would be increased progressively to a total of 80 for an Army 
of 4,000,000 men, of which 50 were to be assigned to the field forces engaged 
in major operations and 30 held in a reserve available for defending vital 
installations along the coastal frontiers. This plan provided the base for a 
careful survey and recalculation of antiaircraft needs undertaken by the War 
Plans Division in the spring and summer of 1939. It was apparent to the 

35 Air F orce Combat Comd Status Rpts, 30 Jun and 30 Nov 41, OPD Exec 16, items 27 and 29. 
See lch. ivj below, for the deployment of aviation in continental defense after Pearl Harbor. 

36 Various papers, WPD 1956-41 and WPD 1956-54; Memo, WPD for CofS, 7 Aug 39, 
WPD 4078-11. 



planners at the outset that the National Guard and Organized Reserves 
would have to furnish the bulk of antiaircraft forces, since the Regular Army 
could not hope to maintain enough units of this sort in peacetime to meet 
the needs of a real war emergency. The War Plans Division also acknowl- 
edged that the number of regiments projected in the Protective Mobilization 
Plan was "grossly inadequate" to meet the requirements of home defense. 
Practical considerations would in all probability limit the antiaircraft defense 
of vital installations to those within a hundred miles or so of the Atlantic and 
Pacific coasts, and within this zone the defense of naval installations would 
have a high priority . a7 

The completed General Staff study on antiaircraft needs contained recom- 
mendations based on a number of other assumptions. Accepting the estimate 
of the Air Board, it held that any likely air attacks on the United States would 
be hit-and-run affairs launched from carriers and would therefore be far less 
destructive than those possible within the narrow confines of Europe, 38 Since 
raids of this sort would incur great risk to the attacker, they would be care- 
fully aimed at objectives vital to an American war effort, most of which were 
located in or near metropolitan centers. To the planners it appeared obvious 
that ship-based raids would be less likely along the coast where the major 
portion of the United States Fleet was located. Since the United States was 
keeping most of its naval strength in the Pacific, this study and later plans 
gave greater emphasis to the Atlantic than to the Pacific coast, even though 
Japan had a number of carriers in operation and Germany and Italy had none. 
Along the Atlantic coast, the vital and densely populated area between Boston 
and Norfolk was to receive the greatest protection, the study designating 
more than two-thirds of all the first-priority allocations of gun battalions for 
the defense of that region. Lastly, since in all probability the Army in a war 
emergency could not furnish enough antiaircraft artillery to supply even the 
most reasonable needs of all localities, antiaircraft units and equipment 
would have to be kept mobile so that they could be concentrated where they 
would be most needed. 39 

The antiaircraft study as approved forecast an initial requirement of 87 

37 Memo, WPD for DCofS, 27 Dec 38, WPD 1956-57; Memo, WPD for TAG, 3 Mar 39, 
WPD 4078-7; Memo, WPD for CofCA, 21 Mar 39, WPD 4078-8; Memo, WPD for CofS, 
7 Aug 39, WPD 4078-11. 

38 The Army during the prewar period never did calculate the needs for aviation and anti- 
aircraft artillery for defending the continental United States against land-based air power, because 
until 1942 transoceanic bombardment was impossible and also because it was assumed that American 
air power would be successful in preventing the establishment of any hostile air base within the 
Western Hemisphere. 

39 Memo and Incls, WPD for CofS, 7 Aug 39, WPD 4078-11. 



battalions of 3 -inch or larger antiaircraft guns, and 57 battalions of 37-mrn. 
automatic guns, for continental coastal defense under the assumptions out- 
lined above. Under the most unfavorable foreseeable circumstances (that is, 
neither the Navy nor the air arm available to protect the coastal approaches) , 
there would be a need for 157 additional battalions of big guns and 97 more 
automatic weapons battalions. The estimate of initial requirements repre- 
sented the equivalent of 72 antiaircraft regiments for continental defense, in 
contrast to the 30 regiments originally allocated under the Protective Mobil- 
ization Plan. Objections that the technological improvement of bombardment 
aircraft had outmoded existing antiaircraft equipment were countered with 
the assumption that there could and would be comparable advance in anti- 
aircraft gun efficiency. The study assumed that most of the big gun battalions 
would get the new 90-mm. instead of the existing 3-inch weapon for high 
altitude firing, and that the 37-mm. automatic gun would replace the .50- 
caliber machine gun then in current use for lower altitude saturation firing. 
The planners also rejected the claim of certain air enthusiasts that defensive 
aviation could entirely supplant antiaircraft guns in air defense. They argued 
that it could not be safely assumed that enough defensive aviation would 
be constantly available or that planes would be alerted in time to meet at- 
tacking aircraft before they reached their objectives. Furthermore, the use 
of combat aviation for purely defensive purposes represented a wasteful di- 
version from its primary offensive mission, and the provision of antiaircraft 
artillery even in a very modest quantity would help free the air arm as well 
as the Navy for offensive action. 40 

The exploration of antiaircraft needs in the spring and summer of 1939 
set the pattern for Army thinking and planning on the subject until the sum- 
mer of 1942. The chief problem was to get the men and equipment needed. 
When the war began in Europe there were only 5 Regular Army and 13 Na- 
tional Guard mobile antiaircraft regiments in existence. The Army organized 
4 new Regular Army regiments in the fall of 1939, and it planned to increase 
the regimental strength of the National Guard from 13 to 28. This expansion, 
if carried through, would provide 37 regiments instead of the 34 for which 
equipment was to have been procured under the 1937 plan. The 37 regiments 
would have to serve all purposes — reinforcement of overseas garrisons, field 
force duty, and continental coastal defense. 

40 Ibid. For further details on the organization and development of antiaircraft units and equip- 
ment, see Army Ground Forces Study 26, by Lt. Col. Alvin M. Cibula, The Antiaircraft Command 
and Center (Washington, 1946) ; and Constance McLaughlin Green, Harry C Thomson, and 
Peter C. Roots, The Ordnance Department: Planning Munitions for War, UNITED STATES 
ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1955), ch. XIV. 



In the spring of 1940 a committee of the Air Defense Board reconsidered 
antiaircraft as well as aviation needs for home defense, and reached the con- 
clusion that even the defeat of France and Great Britain would not require 
any change in the current Protective Mobilization Plan objective of 37 anti- 
aircraft regiments, of which 25 were now earmarked for the field forces and 
only 12 for defense of continental installations. The War Department ap- 
proved this conclusion, as well as the committee's reaffirmation of the earlier 
long-range plan for 30 regiments for continental service in a fully augmented 
Army. In doing so it did not reject the August 1939 antiaircraft plan, but 
accepted the 37-regiment goal as the most that could be accomplished in the 
development of a balanced force of arms before war actually broke out. 41 

By the autumn of 1941 the Army actually had 37 antiaircraft artillery 
regiments and 9 separate gun battalions in service in the continental United 
States. 42 Most of these units still needed much training, and they were even 
shorter in equipment and ammunition than in training. As of September 
1941, the War Department considered the equivalent of about 18 antiaircraft 
regiments (instead of 12 as planned in 1940) available for continental de- 
fense purposes, but because of weapons and ammunition shortages it did not 
anticipate that any units earmarked for home defense would be ready until 
the summer of 1942. 43 

Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Army deployed about 
two-thirds of its antiaircraft units and almost all of the antiaircraft weapons 
available to guard vital installations on the east and west coasts. In units this 
deployment amounted initially to about 29 regiments. From December 1941 
until January 1944 the number of regiments engaged in continental defense 
remained approximately the same, the total varying between a strength of 
24 and 32 regiments. 44 Though the number of regiments deployed appeared 
to represent a rather exact fulfillment of prewar plans, in fact this probably 
happened more by chance (what chanced to be available in December 1941) 
than by design. 

During the first six months of war the Army actually intended to provide 
a much more extensive antiaircraft artillery coverage for the east and west 
coasts of the United States. The first wartime Troop Basis of January 1942 
provided for the equivalent of 60 prewar regiments for continental defense 

41 Tab F, Rpt of Comm 2, Air Def Bd, 3 May 4 o, OPD Exec 12, item 17; Memo, WPD for 
CofS, 29 Nov 4 o,WPD 4079-36. 

42 Army Station List, 15 Oct 41, AG 322 (1 0-8-41). 

43 D/F, WP D to Cof A S, 4 Sep 41, WPD 1956-94. 

44 See below, |ch IV[ OPD Weekly Status Maps, 5 Feb 1942-20 Jan 1944, AG 061, show 
the actual strengths during 1942 and 1943. 



by the end of 1942. 45 The Eastern Theater of Operations in February submit- 
ted an elaborate antiaircraft artillery defense plan that called for a minimum 
of about 100 regiments and a maximum of nearly 300 for the defense of the 
east coast area alone — and the maximum would have required a troop 
strength of about 458,ooo. 40 A study of the first priority provisions of this 
plan, together with a re-examination of the August 1939 plan, led the War 
Department to approve a plan for providing the coastal areas with the equiv- 
alent of 100 antiaircraft regiments by the end of 1943, and the continental 
defense commanders were so notified in May 1942. 47 The new War Depart- 
ment plan, like that of 1939, allotted more than two-thirds of the projected 
antiaircraft strength to the east coast. But all of these 1942 projects remained 
paper plans never to be carried out during World War II. In fact, throughout 
1942 and 1943, the west coast had greater antiaircraft artillery strength than 
the east coast; and in general the continental defense commanders had to get 
along with the unit strength allotted to them when the United States entered 
the war. 

Aircraft Warning Service 

Army preparations for an aircraft warning service, the third major ele- 
ment of an air defense system, began with preliminary test exercises on both 
coasts in 1937 and 1938. During those years also, the Signal Corps was 
developing the first American radar equipment for detecting the approach 
of aircraft, the SCR-268 for use with antiaircraft artillery searchlights and 
the long-range SCR-270 for discovering the approach of enemy planes in 
time to alert defensive aviation. 48 The prospective availability of the SCR-270 
led the War Department in May 1940 to direct the army commanders to 
select sites for locating detectors along the coasts and also to adjust their 
existing aircraft warning service plans to the use of radar. With the com- 
manders' recommendations in hand, the War Department on 2 August 1940 
approved a plan to provide the continental coastal frontier with a ring of 

45 Memo, G-3 for WPD, 15 Jan 42, WPD 3674-83. These regiments would have required 
about 108,000 troops, twice as many as this Troop Basis provided for manning harbor defenses. 

46 Antiaircraft Artillery Def Project, ETO, 1942, 10 Jan 42, submitted to the General Staff 
by Ltr, GHQ to TAG, 4 Feb 42, AG 660.2 AA (1-1-40), sec. 1; various papers, WPD 4627-5, 
especially Memo, CofCA for WPD, 21 Feb 42. 

47 Memo, WPD for G-3, 8 Mar 42, WPD 1956-96; Memo, OPD for TAG, 18 May 42, 
OPD 660.2 AA/13. Throughout this antiaircraft discussion all figures of regimental strength have 
been reduced to the common denominator of the prewar mobile regiment, which contained one 
battalion manning twelve large guns and a second battalion manning thirty-two automatic guns. 

48 Terrett, The Emergency, ch. V, and app pp. 318 — 25, in which the Army radars of World 
War II are identified and described. 



thirty-one mobile detectors. The plan specified that work should begin first 
at eleven sites along the northeast Atlantic coast and at ten along the Pacific 
coast. 49 

The Signal Corps' SCR-270 radar (and its fixed version, the SCR-271) 
had a range, when competently operated, of between 100 and 150 miles. 
When production of the SCR-270 was just beginning in early 1941, the 
Chief of the Air Corps described this set as "no good" and asked that it be 
replaced by British radar models as soon as possible. 50 After the United 
States entered the war there was much more widespread criticism of the 
SCR-270 and continued demands that it be replaced by British equipment. 
Actually, most of the criticism seems to have been misdirected; the lack of 
trained manpower to operate the machines, rather than the machines them- 
selves, appears to have been chiefly at fault. 51 In any event the SCR-270 was 
the radar that served the Atlantic and Pacific coasts during 1942 and 1943, 
the years of active continental defense. 

At the end of November 1941 the Army was completing preparations 
for installing mobile radars at thirteen locations along the Atlantic coast 
and ten locations along the Pacific front, After Pearl Harbor the War De- 
partment allocated almost all its available SCR-270' s to continental use. 
Fortunately, this equipment had the great advantage of mobility, and by 
early January 1942 the Army had been able to install 31 of these sets along 
the east coast and 27 along the west coast. By mid-July 1942 these numbers 
had been increased to 41 and 31, respectively. The antiaircraft forces by 
then were also fairly well supplied with SCR-268's to guide their opera- 
tions. 52 Thereafter the number of long-range radars in continental defense 
use declined, as the prospect of air attack faded and the demands of over- 
seas forces mounted. 53 

Barrage Balloons 

A fourth air defense element, the barrage balloon, received consider- 
able attention but only scant development before the United States entered 

49 Ltr, TAG to CG's First, Third, and Fourth Armies, 23 May 40; Memo, WPD for CofS, 
31 Jul 40. Both in AG 660.2 AA (5-22-40). Also, various background papers, WPD 3640. 

50 Remarks of Gen Arnold in Conf, 25 Jan 41, OCS Conf, binder 8. 

51 George Raynor Thompson, Dixie R. Harris, Pauline M. Oakes, and Dulany Terrett, The 
Signal Corps: The Test, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1957), 
PP- 93~97- 

52 Memo, Col Sherrill for ACofS WPD, and atchd tab A, 8 Jan 42, WPD 4187-25; Incl to 
Signal Corps Memo, 14 Jul 42, title: Distribution of Ground Radar Sets in Cont U.S., cited in 
Thompson et al., The Test, p. 290. 

53 History of the Western Defense Command, vol. Ill, ch. 10, contains a map of the overwater 
coverage of the twenty-five radar installations maintained along the west coast in 1943. 



the war. The Air Corps began work on a barrage balloon in 1938, but more 
active preparations did not get under way until the beginning of 1941, after 
reports during the summer and fall of 1940 had indicated the effectiveness 
of balloons in Great Britain and Germany in interfering with low-level 
bombardment. After the Air Corps had developed a large and relatively 
high-altitude-type balloon, the Chief of Staff decided to transfer most 
barrage balloon activity to the Coast Artillery Corps. When the Coast 
Artillery took over at the beginning of June 1941, the Army had three 
barrage balloon companies and just three balloons. But it had tentatively 
decided to acquire 3,000 more balloons, and plans evolved during the sum- 
mer and fall of 1941 to expand the barrage balloon force to be used for 
continental defense purposes alone to eighty-five batteries, each flying thirty- 
five balloons. 54 By 1 November 1941, five battalions of three batteries each 
were being organized and trained at the Barrage Balloon Training Center 
at Camp Davis, North Carolina. The Army sent three of these battalions to 
bolster the air defenses of the west coast soon after the outbreak of war. It 
also decided to replace the Air Corps type of balloon with the smaller 
British balloon which, although designed to fly at lower levels, was easier 
to handle, less expensive to manufacture and operate, and readily procurable. 

As one part of the new antiaircraft project approved in the spring of 
1942, a maximum of forty balloon battalions of prewar strength for con- 
tinental defense was to be provided. The number actually employed for this 
purpose during the war was a little more than one-tenth of this strength, 
and in the United States balloon battalions were used only at a few west 
coast locations and at the Sault Ste. Marie Canal. 55 

The Air Defense System 

The experimental Air Defense Command activated in early 1940 pro- 
vided the model for the four continental interceptor commands established 
under the Air Force Combat Command in June i94i. 56 The plans of the 
new Army Air Forces contemplated that the interceptor commands would 
control nineteen air defense regions to be established within the United 
States, and that each region would be provided with a pursuit group and a 
separate aircraft warning organization. Within the latter there would be a 
central information center to receive word of aircraft movements from the 

54 Memo, WPD for TAG, 9 Jim 41, WPD 1098-22; various papers, AG 452.3 (10-5-40) (1). 

55 Directory, Army of the United States, 1 Nov 41; Memos, CofCA for CofS, 15 and 18 
Feb 42, AG 4 s2 ^ (10-5-40) (1) ; Memo, OPD for TAG, 18 May 42, OPD 660.2 AA/13. 

56 See |ch. IlJ above. 



coastal radar stations and from a civilian ground observer's organization 
through intermediate filter centers. The information center in turn would 
alert all air defense elements and issue air raid warnings to the civilian 
defense organization. In the fall of 1941 the Army Air Forces assumed that 
it would command the whole air defense system in the continental United 
States in time of war, by exercising operational control over the ground ele- 
ments of the system. 

In fact, the continental air defense system after Pearl Harbor differed in 
several respects from that plotted during 1941. As already noted, the air 
forces on the east and west coasts were put under the theater commanders 
and remained there for defense purposes until September 1943. The anti- 
aircraft forces, instead of depending upon the aircraft warning service, had 
their own separate observation and alert systems and, in general, occupied 
a more autonomous position in relation to the interceptor commands than 
projected in 1941 plans. The principal combat mission of Army aviation 
along the American coasts turned out to be the conduct of antisubmarine 
operations under Navy operational control. During the war more than 6,000 
ground observer posts supplemented the coastal radar system in the aircraft 
warning service, but how effective this system would have been in detecting 
and charting the approach of hostile planes is very uncertain. Though the 
system was most elaborate in the northeastern United States, early in 1943 
the training officer at the Boston filter center guessed that the chances of in- 
tercepting hostile planes beforfc they attacked were about one in ten, while 
the executive officer at the same station estimated them at one in twenty. 57 
The Air Forces acknowledged before the end of 1943 that its flight train- 
ing program in coastal areas had made the aircraft warning service almost 
completely ineffective, because it was impossible under the circumstances 
to identify aircraft accurately. 58 Air defense had been sacrificed to air train- 
ing for the offensive. 59 

The Army and Civilian Defense 

Civilian defense during World War II comprehended all measures of 
"passive" defense necessary to safeguard civilian lives and property to the 

57 Min, WD Gen Council Mtg, 1 Mar 43. 

58 Incl to JPS 333, 1 Dec 43, ABC 384 North America (11-29-42), sec. 2. See |ch. IVj below. 

59 For further details on the origins and deployment of the various elements of the continental 
air defense system, see Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, eds., "The Army Air Forces in 
World War II," voL VI, Men and Planes (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1955) 
(hereafter cited as Craven and Cate, eds., Ate and Planes), ch. I, 



maximum degree possible against enemy action, particularly against air ac- 
tion in the form of high explosive, incendiary, or gas bombardment. In 
Army plans and practice before and during the war, it also included the 
spotting of aircraft movements by civilians at thousands of ground observer 
posts. The effectiveness of both types of activity depended on building an 
immense organization of civilian volunteer workers, and the American 
civilian defense organization that developed during the war has been called 
"the greatest example of mass mobilization . . . ever voluntarily undertaken 
by the citizens of the United States." 60 The Army played a substantial role 
in planning the civilian defense organization and in advising and assisting 
it, but, in order to concentrate military energy and forces on active defense 
measures, from the summer of 1940 onward the Army resisted efforts to 
make civilian defense a direct War Department responsibility. 61 

As noted earlier, the War Department had included civilian defense 
planning in its general directive of May 1935 to army commanders on air 
defense preparations. In the following year the Chemical Warfare Service, 
which because of its apprehensions of gas attack took the lead in urging 
Army civilian defense planning, prepared and published Passive Defense 
Against Air Attack, a handbook forecasting a range of protective activities 
similar to those actually undertaken during the war. 62 At the urging of the 
Chief of the Chemical Warfare Service in June 1939 the General Staff 
launched a thorough investigation of civilian defense problems, and the 
directive initiating this study broadened its scope to include civilian protec- 
tion against sabotage and internal disturbances as well as all forms of ex- 
ternal attack. 63 

In its initial completed form (October 1939) the civilian defense study 
proposed the establishment within the War Department of an agency to be 
called the Civilian Defense Bureau and extensive collaboration between 
Army officers and civilians in planning the details of civilian defense. The 
General Staff dropped the latter idea because it feared the Army might be- 

60 PMG Study 3B-1, 30 Apr 46, title: Defense Against Enemy Action Directed at Civilians, 
OCMH (hereafter cited as PMG Study 3B-1, 30 Apr 46). 

61 ASF Monograph, War Department Relationships With the Office of Civilian Defense, 
completed in May 1943, in OCMH, is an inadequate treatment, but the two volumes of appended 
documents are a useful compilation on the organization of civilian defense protective services 
during the war. (This work is hereafter cited as WD Relationships with OCD.) 

e2 Ltr, TAG to CG's, 21 May 35, AG 660.2 AA (5-15-35); Memo and Incls, WPD for 
CofS, 26 May 38, WPD 4078. Leo P. Brophy and George J. B. Fisher, The Chemical Warfare 
Service: Organizing for War, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 
1959), chapter X, describes the work of the Chemical Warfare Service in this field before and 
during World War II. 

63 WPD Interoffice Memo, 1 Jun 39, WPD 4078-3. 



come involved in too much expense and too many requests for immediate 
assistance. 64 It also shied away from a separate civilian defense bureau, 
agreeing instead that civilian defense preparations could be combined with 
internal security functions in the Provost Marshal General's office provided 
for in current mobilization plans. 

The Civil Defense Plan as approved on 18 March 1940 stated that the 
War Department should: 

(1) Exercise general supervision of civil defense planning. 

(2) Provide for administrative control of civil defense by appropriate War Depart- 
ment and civil agencies. 

(3) Co-ordinate civil defense measures with other War Department activities. 

(4) Authorize the use of military personnel to assist local, municipal, and state 

(5) Prepare essential instruction material for the guidance of civil, military, and 
private agencies. 65 

The plan and accompanying staff study assumed that, as soon as the situation 
required, the War Department should and would assume national direction 
of civilian defense preparations through a provost marshal general's office; 
that this office would work through the corps area commanders with state 
civilian defense councils; and that civilian defense organized on a local and 
municipal basis would operate under state supervision and (indirectly) under 
Army control. The plan included organization for antisabotage and other in- 
ternal security functions as well as for combating external attacks. 66 

The Army thus had a civilian defense plan in hand but had done little to 
implement it when the events of May and June 1940 brought the United 
States face to face with the possibility of an early and ill-prepared entry into 
the war. The initiative for immediate action came from the American Legion, 
which in early June presented President Roosevelt with a plan, called the 
Service of Security Plan, for using the Legion's national and local units as 
a semimilitary civilian defense and internal security organization. As a mat- 
ter of principle the President and his military advisers had to reject this pro- 
posal, believing as they did that any civilian defense organization must be 
built upon state police powers and public channels of authority. 67 On the 
assumption that a federal civilian agency rather than the Army itself would 
be made generally responsible for civilian defense, the Chief of Staff vetoed 
the proposal to activate the office of the Provost Marshal General im- 

64 Memo, G-3 for WPD, 12 Dec 39, WPD 4078-3. 

05 Tab 8, Memo, WPD for CofS, 20 Feb 40, WPD 4078-3. 

6U Memo, WPD for CofS, 20 Feb 40, and accompanying papers, WPD 4078-3. 

07 Various papers, WPD 4078-21 and WPD 4078-25. 



mediately and, instead, approved the establishment in July 1940 of a Civil 
Defense Branch in the G-3 Division to exercise War Department civilian 
defense functions. On 2 August the President established the Division of 
State and Local Co-operation, primarily as a federal agency for the handling 
of civilian defense matters, and later in the same month he asked the 
American Legion to index and classify its membership in preparation for 
home defense duty. 68 

After it became apparent that Great Britain was not likely to fall, the 
tempo of civilian defense preparation declined. The new G-3 branch never- 
theless kept busy on what has been called "the most important basic work 
done by the Army in civilian defense" during the war — the preparation, in 
collaboration with the appropriate services and service arms, of nine instruc- 
tional pamphlets on civilian defense organization and procedure for protec- 
tion against air attack. After the Secretary of War's appointment of the Na- 
tional Technological Advisory Committee in January 1941, its civilian mem- 
bership helped in the preparation and review of these pamphlets, thus pro- 
viding the sort of civilian advice that had been rejected for reasons of 
economy in December 1939. These War Department manuals were printed 
and widely distributed during 1941 and early 1942, and they provided local 
civilian defense organizations with much of the technical information that 
they needed to guide their operations. After the establishment of the Office 
of Civilian Defense in May 1941, the War Department transferred to it the 
responsibility of completing the pamphlets and of distributing them. 69 

In December 1940 General Marshall decided that the Army ought to 
take a more active hand in civilian defense preparations, and one result was 
the dispatch of a War Department Civil Defense Mission to England in 
January 1941 to observe and study the British civilian defense system. A 
number of other missions — municipal, state, and American Legion — visited 
Great Britain during the winter and early spring of 1940 — 41, and British 
arrangements for civilian defense had a substantial influence on American 

68 Various papers, WPD 4078-23, WPD 4078-40, and WPD 4078-43; Notes on Conf in 
OCofS, 29 Jul 40, OCS Conf, binder 3; Elwyn A. Mauck, Bureau of the Budget, MS, Civilian 
Defense in the United States, 1940-45, ch. II, p. 3, copy in Bureau of the Budget files. On 
American Legion civilian defense activities during 1940 and 1941, see H. Doc. 538, 77th Cong., 
2d sess., Proceedings of the 23rd National Convention of the American Legion, September 1941, 
(hereafter referred to as American Legion, Proceedings 1941)^ pp. 380-82; and, on the Legion's 
role during the war generally, Richard Seel ye Jones, A History of the American Legion (New 
York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1946), ch. VII. 

60 Memo, SGS for G-3, 5 Oct 40, OCS 17967-44; Remarks of CofS and SW at War Council 
Mtg, 26 May 41, SW Conf, binder 1; Ltr, SW to Dir OCD, 23 Jun 41, OCS 15491-48; Testi- 
mony of Mr. Walter D. Binger (of the National Technological Advisory Comm.), 9 Jan 47, 
Report of War Department Civil Defense Board (Washington, February 1947), an. 1. 



preparations. 70 By early 1941 these preparations were under way all over the 
nation, but especially along the east coast. As early as August 1940 twenty- 
six states had established civilian defense councils of one sort or another, 
and the American Legion, carrying out the President's suggestion of the 
preceding August, in February 1941 registered more than 800,000 World 
War I veterans (not all of them Legionnaires) for home defense duty. In 
February also, the United States Conference of Mayors urged the need for 
establishing an effective federal agency for co-ordinating civilian defense 
matters, and the War Department made a similar recommendation on 17 
March 1941. In April, before the President acted on these recommendations, 
the Army Air Corps arranged with the American Legion for it to take over 
the task of organizing and training the tens of thousands of ground observers 
who would be needed for the aircraft warning service. 71 

President Roosevelt established the Office of Civilian Defense on 20 
May 1941 and chose Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia of New York as its 
Director. The order creating the new office specified that its activities should 
be carried out along two more or less separate lines. One line of activity, 
under the jurisdiction of the Volunteer Participation Committee, was in- 
tended to promote public backing of the defense effort. 72 The other line, 
under the supervision of the Board for Civilian Protection, included all 
measures directly concerned with the safeguarding of civilian lives and prop- 
erty against the hazards of enemy action. Before Pearl Harbor the activi- 
ties under the Volunteer Participation Committee— which developed to in- 
clude such functions as salvage, victory gardens, child welfare, and nutrition 
study — occupied the attention of most employees in the Office of Civilian 
Defense; even during the war about 60 percent of its employees were 
engaged in this sort of work. It was the universal opinion of civilian as 
well as military civil defense experts after the war that this diffusion of 
activity weakened the Office of Civilian Defense from the outset as an agency 
for supervising civilian protection measures. Furthermore, the office was 

70 Memo, CofS for G-3, 5 Dec 40, WPD 3793-115; Memo ASGS for G-3, 9 Dec 40, OCS 
17967-50; Memo, G-3 for Maj Gen Stanley D. Embick, 21 May 41, WPD 4078-43; Report of 
War Department Civil Defense Board, p, 7. 

71 Notes on Conf in ODCofS, 4 Feb 41, OCS Conf, Binder 10; 1st Ind, TAG for CofCWS, 
24 Jul 41, on Memo, CofCWS for TAG, 30 Apr 41, AG 383 (3-6-41) (1) ; American Legion, 
Proceedings, 1941, p. 381. 

72 The President is reported to have characterized it at the time as "sort of a ballyhoo commit- 
tee." (Memo of Interv with President, 20 May 1941, atchd to 20 May 1941 entry in Stimson 
Diary.) Mr. Wayne Coy, in his testimony before the War Department Civil Defense Board on 
17 Dec 1946, stated that its establishment was perhaps uppermost in the President's mind in 
creating the Office of Civilian Defense. Report of War Department Defense Board, an. 1, pp. 



Mayor La Guardia in Action During Practice Alert in New York City. 

never given authority to direct civilian defense but only to enlist the volun- 
tary co-operation of state and local organizations. 73 

Mayor La Guardia himself had a keen interest in protective activities. 
With the President's approval, he obtained the services of Brig. Gen. Lorenzo 
D. Gasser, whose distinguished Army career had culminated in duty as De- 
puty Chief of Staff before his retirement in 1940, not only as Army member 
of the Board for Civilian Protection but also as Assistant Director of the 
Office of Civilian Defense and head of its Division of Civilian Protection. 
In June 1941 the War Department transferred some of the functions of the 
G-3 Civil Defense Branch to General Gasser and his small staff, and there- 
after worked through General Gasser and (from July 1942 onward) his 
successor, Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant 3d, in guiding the lines of civilian 
defense activity with which the Army was concerned. In July 1941, when the 
Office of Civilian Defense ordered the creation of nine regional offices with 
boundaries coterminous with those of the Army's corps areas, the War De- 

73 Report of War Department Civil Defense Board, an. i. 



partment arranged to have one full-time and one part-time officer serve in 
each regional headquarters; and just before Pearl Harbor the Army author- 
ized a staff of eight officers for each regional headquarters. These arrange- 
ments allowed a considerable degree of Army influence over protective 
measures without the assumption of any direct Army control over civilian 
defense. 74 

The outbreak of war spurred the American public into a mass mobiliza- 
tion for civilian defense. By the end of January 1942 some 8,500 local com- 
munity organizations had enrolled more than 5,000,000 volunteers, and the 
number of persons engaged in home defense activities of all sorts remained 
at about that figure for the succeeding year. 75 There was an immediate and 
widespread demand in December 1941 that the War Department take over 
direct responsibility for civilian protection, and proposals to abolish the 
Office of Civilian Defense and turn over its protective duties to the Army 
continued to be advanced in Congress and elsewhere during the first half of 
1942. The War Department successfully resisted these proposals, and the 
creation in April 1942 of the new Civilian Defense Board, which ostensibly 
gave the Army a stronger voice in the formulation of civilian defense policy, 
helped to still them. 76 Nevertheless, in practice the Army exercised a good 
deal of indirect control of civilian protective services and made substantial 
contributions to them during 1942. This control was most extensive and most 
expertly exercised on the west coast, where Mr. James C. Sheppard, the re- 
gional civilian defense director from March 1942 onward, worked closely 
with the Army commander, General DeWitt, and usually followed his pre- 
cepts. 77 

Soon after the establishment of the Office of Civilian Defense Mr. La 
Guardia had asked the Secretaries of War and Navy for a statement of what 
they considered their proper sphere in civilian defense. Their answer, based 
on the Joint Board's consideration of the subject, specified the following 
military responsibilities: 

(a) Maintenance of contact with Federal, State, and local authorities, through the 
Office of Civilian Defense and its appropriate agencies in the field, in order to insure 
coordination of War Department and Navy Department activities in relation to civilian 

74 WD Relationships With OCD, pp. 12, 14, 65; Testimony of Gen Gasser, 23 Dec 46, 
Report of War Department Civil Defense Board, an. 1. 

75 PMG Study 3B-1, 30 Apr 46, exhibit F, p. 5. 

76 Stimson Diary, entry of 18 Dec 41 ; Ltr, SW to Chairman, Senate Comm on Military Affairs, 
30 Mar 42, OCS 15491-133; Memo, Chief, Admin Services, SOS, for G-i, 30 May 42, AG 383 
(5-30-42) (2) ; WD Relationships With OCD, p. 12. 

77 Testimony of Gen DeWitt, 12 Dec 46, and Mr. Sheppaid, 13 Jan 47, Report of War De- 
partment Civil Defense Board, an. i. 



defense where there is an overlap, and to render such assistance as may be feasible 
and mutually agreeable. 

(b) Operation of all armed forces in combating enemy forces. 

(c) Declaration by the appropriate military authority of a state of alarm during 
periods of danger of aerial and other attacks, 

(d) Enforcement, in conjunction with the civil authorities, of radio silences, black- 
outs, and other necessary protective measures in connection with active military defense, 

(e) Assistance to the Office of Civilian Defense in the preparation of such legisla- 
tion as may be necessary to authorize action specifically as indicated in sub-paragraph 
(d) , above, by the military authorities, prior to the declaration of a national emergency. 78 

Some confusion in responsibilities for air raid warnings existed after the war 
began. In early 1942 it was made clear that the Army was responsible for 
detecting the movements of aircraft, for ordering air alarms, and for pro- 
viding news about past or future air raid alarms. The civilian defense organ- 
ization had the responsibility of disseminating air raid warnings to the public 
after the Army had ordered it to do so. 70 Air raid alarms, blackouts, and 
dimouts raised problems of law enforcement within the realm of state police 
powers. Most states passed appropriate legislation to take care of the situa- 
tion, and Army officers at regional headquarters frequently had an active 
hand in the drafting and enactment of these laws. 80 

In two other spheres, not specifically mentioned above, the Army con- 
tributed very materially to the efficiency of civilian protective activities. One 
was in the provision of equipment. Before Pearl Harbor the War Depart- 
ment had agreed to provide gas masks and other equipment needed for civil- 
ian protection, and Congress had appropriated $85,000,000 for the purchase 
of such equipment. Based on estimates of needs submitted by the Office of 
Civilian Defense, the Army planned the production of 50,000,000 gas masks 
for civilian use. Five million of them were actually produced, of which only 
60,000 were on hand in December 1941. The only extensive distribution of 
gas masks was made to the west coast in late May 1942, just before the Battle 
of Midway. During the war the Army supplied civilian defense organiza- 
tions with a number of other types of equipment such as steel helmets and 
protective clothing. By controlling the procurement and supply of civilian 
defense equipment the War Department could ensure that its production did 
not impede supply to the armed forces. 81 

78 Ltr, SW and SN to Mr. La Guardia, 29 Sep 41, AG 383 (3-26-41) (1). 

79 Memo, SGS for SW, 27 Feb 42; Memo, SW for Dir OCD, 9 Mar 42. Both in OCS 

80 PMG Study 3B-1, 30 Apr 46, exhibit F, p. 6. 

81 The Chief of CWS initiated War Department preparations for supplying civilian defense 
equipment by Memo for TAG, 30 Apr 41, AG 383 (3-26-41) (1), and War Department policy 
on the subject is delineated in Memo, TAG for Chiefs of Arms, Services, and Bureaus, 18 Sep 41, 
in this same file. On post-Pearl Harbor supply see WD Relationships With OCD, pp. 45 — 48. 



The other contribution was the Army's school system for training civil- 
ians, principally municipal firemen and policemen, to handle the various 
types of bombs — explosive, incendiary, and gas — that air attack might bring. 
The Chemical Warfare Service instituted a school for this purpose at Edge- 
wood Arsenal, Md., in June 1941. After the United States entered the war 
regional schools with a similar course were established at six colleges, each 
staffed by an Army complement of six officers and twenty-five enlisted 
men. 82 Special courses in problems of bomb disposal and engineering were 
also provided for civilians during 1942 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., 
and Fort Belvoir, Va. About 8,500 civilians attended these Army schools, 
and in turn acted as instructors in local civilian protection schools through- 
out the nation. 83 The government entrusted the training of aircraft spotters 
and air raid wardens to the American Legion, which for the latter purpose 
set up and conducted at its own expense fifty-six schools in thirty-one states. 
The American Red Cross also participated widely in training civilian defense 
workers in first aid. 84 

The Army's interest and activity in civilian defense rapidly declined after 
1942 because of the increasingly remote threat of serious enemy attack. The 
Office of Civilian Defense recommended its own abolition in August 1943, 
but the President decided to maintain it in order to support civilian morale 
during the war effort and to continue a minimum of protective services. 
Most of these services came to an end before the Office of Civilian Defense 
was formally abolished on 30 June 1945. 85 

The great weakness in the American civilian defense system during 
World War II was its lack of any clear direction by a nationwide authority. 
The Army moved into this vacuum partially and informally, and perhaps 
adequately, considering the slight threat of serious enemy action against 
civilian lives and property in the United States during the war. It is doubtful 
whether a system so haphazardly planned and organized could have stood up 
under the strain of heavy attack. After the war was over it was generally 
recognized that civilian defense must continue to depend on the principle of 
self-help among individual civilians in local communities, backed by local 

82 Brophy and Fisher, The Chemical Warfare Service: Organizing for War, Chapter X, 
describes the operation of these schools in detail. 

83 WD Relationships With OCD, pp. 39-43 ; PMG Study 3B-1, 30 Apr 46, exhibit F. 

84 H. Doc. 364, 78th Cong., ist sess., Proceedings of the 25th National Convention of the 
American Legion, Sept 1943, p. 229, gives a summary of Legion activity after Pearl Harbor; 
Foster Rhea Dulles, The American Red Cross (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1950), pp. 354-55. 

85 Mauck MS, Civilian Defense in the United States, 1940-45, ch. V. 



and state organizations operating under state police powers. But to secure 
uniformity in practice and effective mutual aid across state boundaries in a 
serious emergency this local foundation and organization needed much 
firmer guidance than it had during World War II from either the Army or 
the Office of Civilian Defense. 

Guarding Nonmilitary Installations 

During World War II the United States Army had to assume the major 
responsibility for protecting those public works, public utilities, and industrial 
plants in the continental United States whose continued operation it 
deemed vital to the war effort. In prewar planning the War Department had 
sought to limit the responsibility so that troops trained for combat would not 
have to be diverted in wartime to guard nonmilitary installations, a task for 
which they were not trained and for which they presumably could not be 
spared. Theoretically, state and local governments and private industry it- 
self had the basic responsibility for guarding public works and private prop- 
erties against the hazards of sabotage and open enemy attack. Therefore 
the War Department tried to adhere as closely as it could to the policy that 
Secretary of War Newton D. Baker had enunciated on 7 November 191 9 in 
the following terms: 

The true rule to be followed is that the public military power of the United States 
should in no case be substituted for the ordinary police powers of the States, and should 
be called into service only when the state, having summoned its entire police power, 
is still unable to deal with the disorder which threatens it. The constitutional obligation 
of the government of the United States is a guaranty conditioned upon the primary 
exercise by the States of their full power for the preservation of their own domestic 
peace. The responsibility for the security of property be it federal, state, municipal, or 
private, rests first upon the local government, then upon the state, and only devolves 
upon the Federal Government when all other forces of the locality or state have been 
exhausted or have been found insufficient to meet the emergency. 86 

Actually, the Army discovered during World War II, as it had during World 
War I, that it could not adhere to this policy. With the induction of the Na- 
tional Guard into federal service the states lost their normal instrument for 
large-scale internal security tasks, and the "home" and "state" guards raised 

80 As quoted in .Memo, G-3 for Gen Gasser, Bd for Civilian Protection, 14 Jun 41, WD 
Relationships With OCD, tab 14; and also in Memo, G-3 for TAG, 13 Sep 41, OCS 21084-20, 
an approved basic policy directive for Army-wide distribution on the subject of guarding non- 
military installations. 



as substitutes proved to be generally unavailable for extended guard duty. 
In both wars the states were reluctant to provide guards for federal proper- 
ties and works. In any event, the vital installations that needed guarding were 
very unevenly distributed geographically, and it was too much to expect that 
the states at their own expense would assume this responsibility when it 
would have required such disproportionate degrees of effort on their part. 87 

During the first few months of American participation in World War I 
the states had employed more than 100,000 National Guardsmen on defense 
tasks, principally to guard installations. After the National Guard entered 
federal service, many of the states organized home guard units and secured 
arms and some other equipment for them from the federal government. 
After the war it was estimated that the aggregate strength of these units had 
been about 79,000. Generally, the States had been unwilling to call out these 
units for extended duty at United States-owned properties or around com- 
munication facilities and public works. To guard these the Army organized 
a special force, the United States Guards, which had 48 battalions with a 
total strength of 26,284 officers and enlisted men on n November 1918. In 
function, at least, these battalions resembled the military police battalions 
(zone of the interior) that the Army hastily organized in World War II. 88 

To carry out its acknowledged responsibility for protecting the United 
States from internal disorder and insurrection, the Army after World War I 
had developed a WHITE plan to govern the use of federal troops to quell 
domestic disturbances. During the pre- World War II period each corps area 
had the responsibility for maintaining a current Emergency Plan-WHITE 
for dealing with such disturbances as might foreseeably arise. At the outbreak 
of the European war in 1939 the corps areas were ordered to prepare plans 
for guarding defense industries and to be ready to execute these plans when 
so ordered by the War Department. 80 As noted above, the original Civil De- 
fense Plan of early 1940 contained measures for protection against sabotage. 
These measures were extracted from it in the summer of 1940 and put into 
the counter-fifth column plan, developed by G-2 and approved by the War 
Department on 22 October 1940. Since a primary purpose of the fifth column 
technique was to divert combat troops from field operations to internal 

81 These conclusions, so far as World War I experience was concerned, were carefully pointed 
out in tabs 2 and 3 to the basic civilian defense study of 20 February 1940. WPD 4078-3, but 
they seem to have been overlooked in the later prewar planning. 

88 Chief of the Militia Bureau, Annual Report, 191 9 (Washington, 1919) ; tabs 2 and 3, Memo. 
WPD for CofS, 20 Feb 40, WPD 4078-3- 

so Rads, TAG to CG's of Corps Areas, 2 Sep 39, AG 381 (8-24-39), sec. 1. 



security missions, the aim of the plan was Army co-operation through the 
corps area commanders with state and local guards and police forces in 
order to avoid the use of Army forces in an emergency. The corps area 
commanders were instructed on i November 1940 to gather information as 
discreetly as possible about state and local plans for dealing with fifth 
columnists and to transmit it to the War Department. 90 By August 1941, all 
of the corps areas had completed local counter-fifth column plans, and the 
War Department arranged for a peacetime test of the First Corps Area (New 
England) plan in October 1941. In the same month, the War Department 
transferred the responsibility for supervising this work from G-2 to the 
Office of the Provost Marshal General, which had been activated on 31 
July. 91 But, when large numbers of Army combat troops were assigned by the 
corps area commanders to guard duty immediately after Pearl Harbor, they 
acted generally under the White plans rather than under the counter-fifth 
column plans. 

The War Department's prewar plan for mobilizing a 4,000,000-man 
Army had been revised in 1939 to include the activation of 56 military police 
battalions for duty in the continental United States. Only 3 battalions of this 
sort were in existence in September 1941 when the Army constituted the 
Corps of Military Police. Two months earlier Director La Guardia of the 
Office of Civilian Defense had recommended that the Army activate the 
rest of the 56 battalions at an early date; though acknowledging the primary 
responsibility of state and local governments and private operators to guard 
installations, Mr. La Guardia had pointed out how unprepared they were to 
take over the task in a real war emergency. The Secretary of War and the 
Chief of Staff rejected his recommendation because they believed that any 
move to prepare Army troops for guard duty would discourage state and 
local preparations along this line, and also because they hoped that the 
newly formed State Guards could provide the extra protection that would be 
needed in time of war. 92 

After Congress approved the induction of the National Guard in Septem- 
ber 1940, the War Department sponsored a bill, passed on 21 October 1940, 
that permitted a state to raise and maintain substitute forces during peace- 
time whenever all or a part of its National Guard was in federal service. 
The Army accepted the responsibility for supervising the training of these 

90 Various papers, dated Jul-Nov 40, WPD 4357 and OCS 15435. 

91 Memo, G-2 for CofS, 28 Aug 41, OCS 15435-3^; Ltr, TAG to CG's, 3 Nov 41, WPD 4357. 

92 Memo, G-3 for CofS, 24 Jul 41 ; Ltr, SW to Dir OCD, 19 Aug 41. Both in OCS 20615-13. 
Memo, OCS for SW, 1 Aug 41, SW file, Cabinet Memoranda. 



forces through the corps area commanders and for providing them with 
some items of surplus equipment, including Enfield rifles. Originally, the 
War Department had planned to provide enough equipment to supply State 
Guard units at half the strength of inducted National Guard units. In No- 
vember 1941, it doubled the authorized allotment of equipment in order to 
permit the states to raise a total force of 222,552 officers and enlisted men. 
By the end of October 1941 forces totaling 108,765 officers and enlisted men 
had been recruited in thirty-six states, and their equipment included 93,901 
Enfield rifles turned over to them by the Army without charge. The Army 
was not able to give the State Guards much help in their training, and in 
particular it could not supply them with enough training manuals to go 
around. Men in the State Guards could be drafted into federal service, but 
most of them were older men above draft age. Many of them (four-fifths 
of the officers, and one-third of the enlisted men) had had some previous 
military experience. Almost all of them were fully employed men who 
drilled in their spare time and who could not reasonably be expected to 
serve on extended active duty. 93 

The unsuitability of the State Guards for extended duty, as well as their 
general unreadiness for action, helped to inspire new recommendations in 
September and October 1941 from Under Secretary of War Robert P. Pat- 
terson, from the head of the G-2 Division, and from the corps area com- 
manders on both coasts for the activation of additional military police bat- 
talions or, alternately, the earmarking of infantry battalions for use as guards 
if the United States went to war. 9 * With reluctance General Marshall finally 
approved a compromise scheme for giving military police training to one 
infantry regiment in each of eight National Guard divisions scheduled to 
be triangularized. The Chief of Staff explained his reluctance on the follow- 
ing grounds: 

There can be no argument as to the importance of protecting our plants against 
sabotage, but I am convinced that the use of soldier guards is an expensive and not 
particularly efficient expedient. In effect, we recognize this when we use civilian guards 
to protect War Department buildings which offer a problem in protection somewhat 
similar to that of industrial plants. Soldiers are not trained as watchmen and are gen- 

03 Memo, CofS for USW, 21 Apr 41, OCS 21169-26; Memo, G-3 for CofS, 5 Aug 41, 
OCS 20475-35; Ltr, Chief of Natl Guard Bur to SW, 31 Oct 41, OCS 21169-72; Ltr, CofS to 
Mr. Thomas H. Beck, 26 Nov 41, OCS 1 5491-91. For further details on the organization and 
activities of State Guards before and during the war, see the Annual Report of the Chief of 
National Guard Bureau, 1941, 1942, and 1946; also Natl Guard Bur, WDSS, MS, State Guard 
Training, OGMH. 

94 Memo, CG Ninth Corps Area for CG Fourth Army, 18 Sep 41, GHQ 381 Preparedness for 
War, binder 2; Memo, G-2 for CofS, 16 Oct 41, OCS 20615-26. 



erally younger and more impulsive than is desirable for men on such special duty. It is 
possible that a service of civilian guards may become necessary for plant protection, 
but I am sure that military units should be kept as an emergency reserve under the 
Corps Area commanders. We are planning to increase our Military Police force for 
this particular purpose. 

If the War Department were to accept responsibility for guarding plants and in- 
stallations, I anticipate an endless stream of requests from owners to obtain a detail of 
troops for their plants. Plainly, we could not afford such a diversion of our military 
effort. ... It would be a mistake for the War Department to recede from the policy that 
the protection of plants and installations is the primary responsibility of operators, 
owners, and local and state governments. If these agencies prove ineffective they are 
backed up by the held forces which are available as a final reserve. 95 

The military police training of the National Guard regiments had just 
begun when the United States plunged into the war. The corps area com- 
manders immediately requisitioned thousands of field force troops from 
the army commanders to guard vital installations all over the nation, but 
especially along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Requests for protection 
poured in to the War Department, not only from private sources and from 
local and state governments but also from other federal departments; the 
Secretary of the Interior, for instance, wanted a much stronger Army guard 
at Hoover, Grand Coulee, and Shasta Dams. 90 Special instructions went out 
on 8 December to relieve Air Corps forces from guard duty, but none of the 
ground arms and services were immune. As an example, the Third Corps 
Area commander drafted 16 officers and 400 enlisted men for protective 
duty from the training cadre of the Quartermaster Replacement Center at 
Camp Lee, Va., and thus brought the training of about 9,000 troops to a 
virtual standstill. 07 As of 17 December 48,107 Army troops and 13,556 
State Guards were reported on guard duty throughout the nation, and in 
addition thousands of "irregular" state and local forces were called into 
action along the Pacific coast. 98 Maj. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, temporarily 
commanding the Southern California Sector of the Western Defense Com- 
mand, neatly summarized the situation when he noted in his journal on 20 

Requests for Army Guards: Terminal Island, shipbuilding plants, commercial radio 
stations, railroad bridges and tunnels, railroad crossovers, dams, water supply, power 
plants, oil wells, tanks, and refineries. Aircraft manufacturing plants, hospitals, aque- 
ducts, harbor defenses, airfields, offices of Interceptor Command, etc., etc. Everybody 

95 Memo, CofS for USW, 27 Oct 41, OCS 20615-26, 

96 Memo, G-3 for CofS, 9 Dec 41, OCS 14561-27. 

97 Memo for Red on Memo, G-3 for TAG, 29 Dec 41, OCS 17529-136. 

98 Memo, SW for President Roosevelt, 24 Dec 41, OCS 20615-33; Annual Report of the 
Chief of National Guard Bureau, 1942, p. 79. 



makes a case for his own installation, and nobody gives a damn if the Army bogs down 
and quits training. Right now (December 20) we have seven regiments of infantry in 
the area, four of which are on guard duty." 

The day after Pearl Harbor, Director of Civil Defense La Guardia stressed 
to the President the immediate need for additional Army military police 
battalions to guard "bridges, power plants, water works/' and so forth. 
"No city has enough police for emergency/' wrote Mr. La Guardia. "States 
can't help much. Home Guard not constituted or prepared for such duty 
day-in and day-out." President Roosevelt sent his letter to Secretary of War 
Henry L. Stimson with a penned note that read: "Harry Stimson — How 
about this. We ought to do something. FDR." 100 On 16 December Presi- 
dential Executive Order 8972 appeared, "authorizing the Secretary of War 
and the Secretary of the Navy to establish and maintain military guards and 
patrols, and to take other appropriate measures, to protect certain national 
defense material, premises, and utilities from injury or destruction." By the 
third week in December the War Department had capitulated and planned 
to activate fifty-one additional military police battalions for continental duty 
as soon as possible. 101 This would provide a total of fifty- four such battalions, 
with a strength of about 30,000 officers and men. The War Department 
planned to command them with officers over age for combat duty and fill 
them with limited service and overage enlisted men. 102 

Though new military police battalions could not be ready to replace 
field force units for several months, the Army after December 1941 rapidly 
withdrew combat troops from guard duty except along the Pacific coast. 
In mid-February 1942 a total of 31,123 Army troops and 3,742 State Guards 
were still performing guard duty, but more than three-fourths of these were 
on duty in the Ninth Corps Area. 103 Pressure for more rather than fewer 
Army guards remained strong, and General Marshall during February and 
March had to put on a veritable campaign to impress Congress and the 
public with the necessity of concentrating on offensive preparations. 10 * By 
May 1942 the Army had the quota of ZI military police battalions that had 
been planned the preceding December, and subsequent authorizations in- 

m Joseph W. Stilwell, The Stilwell Papers, Theodore H. White, ed. (New York: William 
Sloane Associates, Inc., 1948), p. 10. 

100 Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. 

101 Ltr, SW to Dir OCD, 24 Dec 41, OCS 20615-33. 

102 Ltr, Admin Asst to SW to Chairman, Senate Comm on Military Affairs, 21 Jan 42, OCS 

103 Notes on Conf in ODCofS, 17 Feb 42, OCS Conf, binder 32. 

104 See, for examples, Memo, CofS for ASW John J. McCloy, 24 Feb 42, OCS 15450-15; 
Ltr, CofS to Hon. Warren R. Austin, U.S. Senate, 28 Feb 42, WDCSA 381 Nat Def (2-28-42). 



creased the number available for continental duty to a maximum of eighty- 
nine in late 1942. 105 

During early 1942 the War Department was under considerable pressure 
also to support a "federalization" of the State Guards in order to make them 
a more efficient and available force for home defense. Such a move would 
have made the State Guards a force analogous to the British Home Guard 
and would, of course, have given it greater prestige and also a greater claim 
on federal military supplies. The War Department resisted these approaches, 
insisting that the allocation of police powers under the American consti- 
tutional system required that the states themselves keep an emergency force 
in being. Soon after American entry into the war the State Guard system as 
a device for protecting installations received one body blow when federal 
government agencies decided that they could not grant "administrative 
leave" to their own employees for active duty with the state forces. Another 
came in early 1942 when the Army because of its own acute shortages called 
in all of the Enfield rifles that had been loaned to the State Guards before 
the outbreak of war. In the later war years the Army provided a good deal of 
equipment and training direction to the State Guards, but it could not spare 
much of either during 1942 when the need for guarding installations was 
felt most acutely. 106 

To meet this need, particularly to guard government-owned and pri- 
vately owned industries engaged in vital war production, the Army hit upon 
a new expedient. In practice during 1942 and 1943 it used military police 
battalions primarily to guard public works and large installations such as 
ports of embarkation. From the beginning of the war the Army had 
depended wherever possible on the civilian guards employed by private 
industries to protect them, internally and externally, against any sabotage 
the enemy might attempt. In the summer of 1942 the Army began to organ- 
ize these guards as "auxiliary military police," in a manner that in effect 
put them under Army rule and regulation. The auxiliary military police, 
whose strength reached a maximum of about 200,000 during 1943, never 
became soldiers, but they did become an Army-controlled force that satis- 
factorily answered World War II requirements for plant protection in the 
continental United States. 107 

105 Directory, Army of the United States, 15 May 42 ; Office of the PMG, MS, World War II: 
A Brief History, OCMH, p. n. 

106 Ltr (WD draft), President Roosevelt to Governor Culbert L. Olson of California, 29 
Apr 42, WDCSA 381 Nat Def (5-7-42); Annual Report of the Chief of National Guard 
Bureau, 1946; Natl Guard Bur, WDSS, MS, State Guard Training, OCMH. 

107 PMG, MS, Auxiliary Military Police Program, OCMH. 


The Continental Defense Commands 
After Pearl Harbor 

Essentially, the external defense problem of the continental defense 
commands after Pearl Harbor was one of preparing to fend off relatively 
minor surface attacks and, along the Pacific front, air attacks that might be 
launched from a carrier striking force. But even minor attacks could have 
caused extensive damage to vital installations and areas, and successful 
''nuisance" attacks might have had an almost calamitous effect on prepara- 
tions for offensive operations overseas. After the Pearl Harbor experience 
the War and Navy Departments were also peculiarly sensitive to the 
prospect of the criticism that would certainly follow any sort of surprise 
attack that they had not prepared to meet as best they could. 

Only the west coast was alerted before the enemy attacked. The war 
alert that was flashed on 27 November 1941 to the Philippine, Hawaiian, 
and Caribbean commanders had gone also to General DeWitt in his capacity 
of Commanding General, Western Defense Command. On the following 
day, a separate antisabotage alert was sent to him as Fourth Army com- 
mander. General DeWitt promptly communicated these alerts to his Army 
Air and Navy colleagues and to his subordinate commanders in the western 
United States and Alaska. His reply to Washington on 28 November de- 
scribed the defensive dispositions he had ordered and contained the assur- 
ance that ''should hostilities occur this command [is] now ready to carry 
out tasks assigned in Rainbow 5 so far as they pertain to Japan except for 
woeful shortage of ammunition and pursuit and bombardment planes which 
should be made available without delay." 1 In fact General DeWitt had 
already started intensive defensive preparations before he received the alert, 
and on 25 November he had asked the War Department to approve his new 
measures and the method of co-ordination that he was pursuing with Air 
and Navy commanders, so that the Rainbow 5 plan would be executed at 

x Telg Hq WDC to CofS, 28 Nov 41, WDC 381 Rainbow 5/28. This file also contains the 
27 November warning. The 28 November antisabotage alert is in WDC 381 EPW/25. 


once if war started. On 29 November the War Department expressed its 
formal disapproval of any measures beyond those required by the 27 No- 
vember alert, for a reason most clearly expressed in an Army Air Forces 
memorandum of 29 November: 'The President has issued very definite 
instructions that he wishes Japan to take first action if such action is to be 
taken." 2 The disapproval did not change General DeWitt' s course, and a 
conference on 1 December among Army, Army Air, and Navy commanders 
produced a joint Pacific coast defense plan that they were able to invoke 
as soon as hostilities began. 3 

The final warning that General Marshall sent about noon on 7 Decem- 
ber also went to General DeWitt, and three hours later he and the other 
continental defense commanders were informed that hostilities with Japan 
had commenced. 4 The second message announced that the War Department 
Rainbow 5 plan was to be placed in effect at once against Japan, and on 
8 December the defense commanders were told to prepare as well for war 
with Germany and Italy. The formal announcement of a general state of 
war between the United States and the Axis Powers followed on 11 De- 
cember. 5 

The Army s Rainbow 5 plan as revised through November 1941 specified 
that the continental defense commands should operate in wartime under De- 
fense Category B, which under current definitions meant that they might be 
subjected to minor attacks. Army activity under this category would have been 
limited to a partial manning of harbor defense installations. As soon as accu- 
rate news of the extent of the Pearl Harbor damage reached General DeWitt 
he decided that the Pacific coast must operate under the higher Category C. 
On 11 December he directed all Army (including Army Air) commanders in 
his area to operate under Category C, and three days later the War Depart- 

2 Memo, CofAS for CG Air Force Combat Comd, 29 Nov 41, copy in WDC 381 WPR/40. 
This copy did not reach Headquarters, Western Defense Command, until 7 December 1941. 
Copies of the other documents referred to are in this file and in WPD 4544-13 and WPD 4544-18. 

3 WDC 370.26/13 contains the record of this conference and the joint defense plan. 

4 Memo, WPD for TAG, 7 Dec 41, WPD 4544-30, contains the message transmitted to WDC 
at 12:11 p.m., and Memo, WPD for TAG, 7 Dec 41, WPD 4544-20, the message sent at 3:00 
p.m. The second message, actually composed before the news of Pearl Harbor reached Washington, 
contained the instruction that "antiaircraft artillery and other mobile ground forces in the United 
States will continue their present training missions until otherwise directed by the War Depart- 
ment." Since General Marshall considered that this instruction was inconsistent with the actual 
situation as it became known in the afternoon and evening of 7 December, the continental 
commanders were told on 8 December to disregard it. Entry of 8 Dec 41, GHQ 314.81 Diary; 
Memo, WPD for TAG, 8 Dec 41, WPD 4544-21. 

5 Memos, WPD for TAG, 8 and 11 Dec 41, WPD 4175-18, embodying messages to be sent 
to the commanding generals of GHQ, the defense commands, and overseas commands. 



ment authorized this category for all of the continental coastal frontiers. 
Category C areas were those in which minor attacks were anticipated "in all 
probability," and required a full installation and manning of harbor de- 
fenses and the provision of other ground and of air defense forces in accord- 
ance with strengths available and the immediate outlook along the particular 
frontier. The continental frontiers remained under Category C until April 
1943, but during December 1941 both east and west coasts and during the 
first half of 1942 the west coast in particular received attention well beyond 
what Category C specifications required. 6 

Defense Measures on the West Coast, 1941-42 

Until the Japanese attacked in the Pacific, the United States had counted 
on its Hawaiian bastion and on the Pacific fleet to provide a secure barrier 
against any serious attack on the continental west coast. After Pearl Harbor 
it seemed, at the outset, that this barrier had been broken and that the 
1,300-mile length of the west coast could be attacked by the Japanese in 
strength and almost at will. The most vital installations along this coast 
were military aircraft factories that had sprung up during the prewar years 
at Los Angeles and San Diego in the south and at Seattle in the north. In 
December 1941 nearly half of the American military aircraft production 
(and almost all of the heavy bomber output) was coming from eight plants 
in the Los Angeles area. The naval yards and ship terminals in the Puget 
Sound, Portland, San Francisco Bay, Los Angeles, and San Diego areas, and 
the California oil industry were of only slightly less importance to the 
future conduct of the war. In the first two weeks of war it seemed more than 
conceivable that the Japanese could invade the coast in strength, and until 
June 1942 there appeared to be a really serious threat of attack by a Japanese 
carrier striking force. These calculated apprehensions were fanned in the 
first few days of war by a series of false reports of Japanese ships and planes 
on the very doorsteps of the Pacific states. 7 

e Ltr : Hq WDC to CG's, n Dec 41, WDC 381 WPR/37; Memo, WPD for TAG, 14 Dec 
41, WPD 4175-18. Joint Action, par. 31, prescribed the five categories of defense, A, B, C, D, 
and E. The manuscript History of the New York-Philadelphia Sector, Eastern Defense Command, 
in OCMH (hereafter cited as Hist of NY-Phila Sector, EDC), 198-202, contains a good de- 
scription of them as they existed in the continental United States during World War II. 

7 Min, JB Mtg, 8 Dec 41; Tel Conv, Gen Marshall with Gen DeWitt, 8 Dec 41, WDC 381 
WPR/48; Stimson Diary, entry of 9 Dec 41; WPD estimates of situation, 12 and 18 Dec 41, 
WPD 4622-37. On the problems of air defense after Pearl Harbor, see also the excellent Chapter 
VIII in Craven and Cate, eds., Plans and Early Operations. The Stilwell Papers, pp. 2-7, reflects 
one west "toast commander's initial concern and subsequent exasperation in the days immediately 


This was the outlook that persuaded the War Department to establish 
the Western Defense Command as a theater of operations on n December 
and that led it to concentrate its first attention after Pearl Harbor on the 
rapid reinforcement of the Army's ground and air garrisons along the west 
coast. When the war started, the Fourth Army had available fairly adequate 
harbor defense forces, n of the 12 infantry regiments allotted to it under 
the current Rainbow 5 plan, and about 5 antiaircraft artillery regiments 
which lacked two-thirds of their equipment. The Second and Fourth Air 
Forces had only a fraction of their assigned strength in planes, and they were 
critically short of bombs and ammunition. During November and early De- 
cember General DeWitt had requested more ground troops for defense 
purposes, but these were denied until the Japanese struck. 8 

On and after 7 December General Marshall and his staff worked fever- 
ishly to strengthen the west coast defenses as rapidly as they could. A pursuit 
group from Michigan began to arrive in the Los Angeles area on 8 De- 
cember, but it was the reinforcement of antiaircraft artillery defenses that 
received the most attention during the week after Pearl Harbor. By 17 De- 
cember nine additional antiaircraft regiments had been rushed from various 
parts of the United States to the west coast, and, with some assistance from 
Marine Corps units, the vital installations in the Seattle, Portland, San 
Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego areas were thereby provided with at 
least some antiaircraft artillery protection. The Army also moved two addi- 
tional divisions and many lesser types of ground combat and service units to 
the west coast before the end of December and made the 3d Division, al- 
ready there, available for defense use. As a result of these moves the West- 
ern theater's major Army combat units in January and February 1942 in- 
cluded six infantry divisions, a brigade of cavalry, about fourteen anti- 
aircraft regiments, and the equivalent of three pursuit and three bombard- 
ment groups. The troop strength of the Western Defense Command num- 
bered about 250,000 at the beginning of February, and of these nine-tenths 
were ground troops. Approximately 100,000 of the ground forces were 
actively engaged in manning harbor antiaircraft defense equipment, in main- 
taining a beach and forward patrol along the coast line, in patrolling the 

following Pearl Harbor. Some of the material in this and succeeding paragraphs of this section 
has been drawn from the five-volume manuscript, History of the Western Defense Command, 
17 March 1941-30 September 1945, in OCMH, and from the manuscript histories of subordinate 
Western Defense Command commands. 

8 Memo, Gen DeWitt for CG GHQ, 14 Nov 41, and subsequent exchanges, GHQ 381 
Preparedness" for War, binder 2; various papers, WPD 4175-18. 



Southern Land Frontier, and in performing antisabotage duties at vital 
installations. 9 

By the third week in December, as the pattern of Japanese operations 
and the disposition o£ Japanese naval forces became known, apprehensions 
about an imminent and serious attack on the west coast subsided. The 
Western theater continued to have a high priority for equipping its air and 
antiaircraft units, but the flow of material for its other forces suddenly 
dropped off. General DeWitt was told that these forces would have to await 
the fulfillment of more pressing needs, and he was also denied the additional 
infantry division and cavalry regiment that he had requested. 10 His equip- 
ment shortages were further aggravated by orders that required him to make 
up shortages of units being shipped through the Western Defense Command 
to overseas destinations and to supply antiaircraft guns for arming merchant 
ships in Pacific coast ports. The general assured GHQ that he would not 
let troops go overseas without equipment "if it takes every gun I have," but 
naturally he wanted the items replaced and his own shortages made up as 
soon as possible. 11 In instructions to his subordinate commanders issued on 
the last day of 1941, General DeWitt himself recognized that there was no 
longer any immediate danger of an invasion in force. By then the principal 
external threat to the Western theater appeared to be from the air, and 
"maximum air defense [was] therefore most important/' 12 

The Second and Fourth Air Forces, located in the Western Defense 
Command when the war began, were there primarily for the training of 
units, and they had only a secondary and very subordinate mission of pro- 
viding an air defense and an attacking force along the Pacific front. At the 
end of November 1941 the two air forces had a combined strength of 100 
bombardment and 140 pursuit planes, many of them obsolete and obsoles- 
cent types. 13 During December the Army Air Forces went through a rapid 
expansion that enabled it by mid- January to assign the Fourth Air Force 
(which by then had taken over the air defense responsibility for the entire 
west coast) 461 pursuit and 219 bombardment planes. Except for heavy 

9 Memo, WPD for ASW, 12 Dec 41, WPD 4622-43; Hist of WDC, IV, app 3. GHQ Inter- 
office Memo, 16 Feb 42, GHQ file, WDC; Protection of Vital Installations; Memo, ASGS for 
SGS> 21 Feb 42, OCS 21084-73, 

10 Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with SGS, 23 Dec 41; Memo, Gen Clark for Gen McNair, GHQ, 
23 Dec 41. Both in GHQ 320.2 WDC Strength, binder 1. Memo, CofS GHQ for CG FF, 23 
Dec 41, WPD 4612-5. 

11 Memo, DCofS GHQ for WPD, 30 Dec 41, WPD 4612-8. 

12 Ltr, CG WDC to CG's, 31 Dec 41, WDC 381 EPW/38. 

13 Air Force Combat Command Status Rpt, 30 Nov 41, OPD Exec 16, item 27. This strength 
in planes was about the same as that of the Hawaiian Air Force at the beginning of the war. 


bombers, the Fourth Air Force was thereby provided with more planes than 
had been allotted to the continental west coast in December planning. 14 

While the early 1942 west coast air strength looked impressive on paper, 
it was actually subject to many qualifications, the most important of which 
was that only 39 of the bombers and 239 of the pursuit planes were ready for 
combat action. 15 Rather acute bomb and ammunition shortages continued, 
and the deficiencies in personnel qualified to operate the planes were even 
more serious. On 12 March the Fourth Air Force commander noted that his 
bombardment squadrons were "all dangerously short of experienced pilots 
and navigators, and almost totally lacking in bombardiers and trained gun- 
ners/' 16 On 24 May the IV Interceptor Command reported that nearly half 
of its assigned pilots were not qualified to fly the planes with which its four 
groups were equipped — one of the four having more planes than qualified 
pilots. This report concluded with the observation, "Considering the handi- 
caps imposed by lack of sufficient suitable airdromes, inadequate housing 
facilities, unsuitable aircraft radio equipment, [and] mass replacement of 
fighter units by new units with less than two weeks training, the efficiency 
of the Command is excellent." 17 The continued preoccupation of the Fourth 
Air Force with training was both inevitable and proper under the circum- 
stances, but it certainly reduced its efficiency as a defense force. 

As in the cases of Hawaii and Panama, one of the most pu2zling prob- 
lems in air defense along the west coast was how to provide enough forces 
to detect an enemy carrier force many hundred miles from the coast and to 
attack it before it could launch its planes. The problem on the Pacific coast 
was complicated by much fog, and by the prospect of a Japanese carrier 
force sailing in behind one of the normal succession of storm fronts that 
moved from the northern Pacific toward the west coast. The best defense 
against carriers was to find and strike at them within a belt 700 to i,ioo 
miles offshore. The only planes that could do this were Army heavy bombers 
and Navy patrol bombers. The Fourth Air Force in January estimated that 
it would require 162 Army and 180 Navy planes of these types to perform 
this mission, but usually in the first five months of 1942 neither service had 
more than a tenth of these strengths available. 18 The improvement of air- 

14 Memo, DCofS for Air for CofS, 20 Dec 41, OPD Exec 8, bk. 1 ; Incl 1 to Memo, CG Fourth 
Air Force for CG WDC, 15 Jan 42, WDC 3S1 Rainbow 5/54. 

15 Incl 1 to Memo, CG Fourth Air Force for CG WDC, 15 Jan 42, WDC 381 Rainbow 5/54. 
16 Ltr, CG Fourth Air Force to Comdr Western Sea Frontier, 12 Mar 42, WDC 370.26/35. 

17 2d Ind, Hq IV Interceptor Comd to CG Fourth Air Force, 24 May 42, OPD 381 WDC/45. 

18 Memo, CG Fourth Air Force for CG WDC, 15 Jan 42, and Incl 3 to this Memo, WDC 381 
Rainbow 5/54 Pers Ltr, Gen DeWitt to Gen Marshall, 16 Jan 42, AG 452.1 (7-24-41). 



borne radar eventually helped to solve the problem, but not during the 
period in which a Japanese strike remained a serious potential threat. In the 
first half of 1942 the protection of the Pacific coast against carrier action 
had to depend very largely upon the capabilities of the interceptor and anti- 
aircraft commands for close-in detecting and defense. 

How effective the close-in air defense of the west coast would have been 
against a determined attack such as the Japanese had launched against Oahu 
remained very doubtful during early 1942. The Army Air Forces was in- 
clined to accept the wholesale strictures that the British radar expert, Mr. 
Robert A. Watson- Watt, leveled against the west coast's radar defenses in 
January 1942. 19 Antiaircraft units along the coast continued to be short of 
guns and ammunition until summer, and they were filled with new men 
who had had a minimum of training. 20 The Army Air Forces admitted in 
April that "even a light enemy force should be successful in pressing home 
an attack on our two big bomber plants if our air defenses were the only 
security provided," and pointed out that the best assurance against attack 
was Japan's continued preoccupation with expansion in Southeast Asia and 
the Southwest Pacific. 21 

The only combat activity in which the Japanese actually engaged along 
the west coast during the months immediately succeeding Pearl Harbor was 
submarine operations. In its prewar basic operations order of 5 November 
1941, the Japanese Navy had directed its 6th Fleet of submarines to "make 
reconnaissance of [the] American Fleet in Hawaii and West Coast area, 
and, by surprise attacks on shipping, destroy lines of communication." 22 
After its participation in the Hawaiian operations, the 6th Fleet organized 
a detachment of nine modern submarines to attack shipping along the west 
coast of the United States. Seven of them were equipped to carry patrol 
planes, but there is no evidence that they launched planes during their De- 
cember operations off the Pacific coast. These submarines, arriving off the 
coast about 17 December, were dispersed to nine stations from Cape 
Flattery in the north to San Diego in the south. They remained for about 
one week. Only four of the nine engaged in any known attacks on coastal 
shipping, and in eight or nine attacks, these four sank two tankers and 
damaged one freighter. All of the attacks took place along the California 

10 Craven and Cate. eds., Plans and Early Operations, pp. 292 — 93. 

20 MS, History of the 4th Antiaircraft Command, 9 January 1942 to 1 July 1945, copy in 
OCMH, (hereafter cited as Hist of 4th AA Comd), I, ch. IV. 

21 D/F, AAF to OPD, 21 Apr 42, OPD 31 9.1 (Rpts— Visits) . 

22 Japanese Monograph 97, Pearl Harbor Operations: General Outline of Orders and Plans, 
app. 1. 


coast. Claims were made at the time that an Army B-24 bomber sank an 
enemy submarine on 24 December at a point fifty miles off the mouth of the 
Columbia River, but the Japanese submarine then assigned to this station 
(the 1-2 5) was the one that returned eight months later to wind up enemy 
submarine operations off the Pacific coast. The submarine detachment had 
planned to engage in a simultaneous shelling of coastal cities on Christmas 
Eve, 24 December 1941, but at the last moment Japanese Fleet headquarters 
ordered the force to abandon the plan and to withdraw immediately to its 
base at Kwajalein. 23 

Two Japanese submarines reached the west coast during February 1942. 
The first to arrive, the 1-8, patrolled northward from off San Francisco to 
the Washington coast "without encountering any enemy vessels," and then 
returned to Japan. 24 The second was the l-ij, which had accounted for one 
of the tankers sunk during December, and which also was one of the plane- 
carrying submarines. The J-17 arrived off San Diego about 19 February. On 
23 February, just as President Roosevelt was beginning one of his "fireside" 
radio addresses, it surfaced off the California coast near Santa Barbara and 
from a range of 2,500 yards fired thirteen rounds of jVi-inch shells at oil 
installations. The damage was negligible. The I-17 reported that after this 
attack it sailed northward and sank two vessels off Cape Mendocino in north- 
ern California before returning to Japan, but there is no record of any such 
sinkings. 25 

The night after the I-iy engaged in its haphazard shelling of oil instal- 
lations there occurred what became known as the "Battle of Los Angeles." 
A month of mounting agitation for the removal of the resident Japanese 
population from coastal California had preceded this event, and by the night 
of 24-25 February both the military defenders and the civilian population of 
the Los Angeles area were expecting the worst to happen at any time. 26 
About two o'clock in the morning a series of reports of suspicious activities 
was capped by word that coastal radars had picked up an unidentified plane 
winging its way in from the ocean toward Los Angeles. Within the next half 
hour a blackout was ordered and all antiaircraft guns were alerted for in- 

23 Japanese Monographs 102, Submarine Operations, Dec 1941-Apr 1942, pp. 13-16 and charts 
opp. p. 36; 108, Submarine Operations in First Phase Operations, Dec 1941-Apr 1942; and 110, 
Submarine Operations in Second Phase Operations, pt. I, April-August 1942, pp. 21, 23. Hist of 
WDC, IV, app. 5, G-2 Chronology of Enemy Operations on Pacific Coast of Cont U.S., pp. 4—12, 

24 Japanese Monograph 102, p. 16. 

25 Japanese Monograph 102, p. 17; Hist of WDC, IV, app. 5, pp. 16-18; Hist of 4th AA 
Comd, I, 113-15; Craven and Cate, eds., Plans and Early Op eration s, pp. 282-83. 

26 For the military aspects of the Japanese evacuation, see |ch. V| below, 



stant fire. The guns began to fire shortly after three o'clock, the first shot 
being aimed at a balloon (probably a meteorological balloon) over Santa 
Monica on the coast. During the next hour they expended some 1,400 rounds 
of 3-inch antiaircraft ammunition against a variety of "targets" in the Los 
Angeles area. Exhaustive inquiries on 25 February accumulated a mass of 
conflicting evidence as to what these targets were. The Army finally con- 
cluded that there had been from one to five unidentified planes that touched 
off the "battle" whereas the Navy decided that there had been no excuse for 
the firing. It is at least possible that the Z-17 launched the plane it carried to 
spark the confusion, although it is very unlikely that this plane flew inland 
over the coast line. In any event, the episode gave the military defenders of 
Los Angeles a realistic practice session and showed how much remained to 
be done to make the air defense system adequate against a serious attack. 27 

After the Halsey-Doolittle raid on Tokyo in April 1942, a more ambitious 
Japanese attack on the west coast appeared much more probable to author- 
ities in Washington. G-2 pointed out that eight Japanese carriers had re- 
turned from their operations around southeastern Asia and that the Japanese 
could release at least three of the eight for a retaliatory attack on the west 
coast without jeopardizing successes already achieved. 28 Secretary Stimson 
"called in General Marshall and had a few earnest words with him about 
the danger of a Jap attack on the West Coast," and confessed to himself that 
he was "very much impressed with the danger that the Japanese, having 
terribly lost face by this recent attack on them . . . , will make a counterattack 
on us with carriers." 29 General DeWitt was warned to be on his guard against 
a carrier attack at any time after 10 May and was told that two more anti- 
aircraft regiments were being sent to bolster the Los Angeles and San 
Francisco defenses. 30 

The Japanese had decided upon an offensive in the north Pacific two days 
before the Tokyo raid, and the raid strengthened their resolve rather than 
determined it. Although they did not plan to attack either the west coast or 
Hawaii proper, both might have been put in a perilous situation if the stated 
objectives of the offensive had been attained. 31 On 16 May the Army learned 

27 Memo, CofS for President Roosevelt, 26 Feb 42, OCS 21347-86; Craven and Cate, eds., 
Plans and Early Operations, pp. 283-86. History of the 4th Antiaircraft Command, I, 115-25, and 
IV, Docs 28 and 29, has the greatest detail on the episode. 

23 Memo, Lt Col Kenneth N. Walker for Brig Gen St. Clair Streett, OPD, 19 Apr 42; Memo, 
G-2 for OPD, 20 Apr 42. Both in OPD 381 Japan/6. 

29 Stimson Diary, entry of 21 Apr 42. 

30 Memo, OPD for WDCMC, 23 Apr 42, OPD 381 WDC/5. 

31 Samuel Eliot Morison, "History of United States Naval Operations in World War II," 


from its Hawaiian commander that the Navy, on the basis of deciphered 
Japanese messages, had concluded that the Japanese would attack Midway 
and Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians, probably on the last two days of May. 32 
On 1 6 May, also, General Marshall informed General DeWitt that a Japa- 
nese attack using gas might be expected in the eastern Pacific in the near 
future. During the next two days 350,000 gas masks (all that were avail- 
able), protective clothing, and decontamination supplies were hurriedly 
shipped to the west coast. 33 The Army's Intelligence Division on 17 May 
concurred in the Navy estimate that a strong Japanese attack on American 
territory was in the offing before the end of the month, but it forecast that 
the "first priority" target of the attack would be "hit and run raids on West 
Coast cities of the continental United States supported by heavy naval forces." 
Army intelligence held that such action was entirely within Japanese capabil- 
ities, considering the weakness of American naval power, and urged the 
concentration on the west coast of all available continental air power to meet 
the threat. 34 Further interceptions enabled the Navy by 21 May to forecast 
with almost exact precision the timing of the Japanese attacks on Midway 
and Dutch Harbor, but until after the Midway naval battle the Army con- 
tinued to be apprehensive of at least a raid on the west coast/* 3 

The known Japanese threat led the War Department to do everything it 
could during the last two weeks of May to strengthen the west coast defenses. 
General Marshall himself paid a hurried visit to California on the weekend 
of 23-24 May and personally directed the adoption of additional air defense 
measures and the reinforcement of defense forces in the Los Angeles-San 
Diego area. On his orders, for example, finished aircraft that he found lined 
up in rows around the various factories were either moved inland or dis- 
persed so that a bomb could not damage more than one. :i(i While the numerical 
increase in west coast Army ground force strength during these weeks was 
small (about 20,000), the means for air attack as well as for air defense 
were greatly strengthened. By flying two full groups to the coast, the Army 

vol. IV, Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Actions: May 1942-August 1942 (Boston: Little, 
Brown and Company, 1950) (hereafter cited as Morison, Coral Sea), p. 6. 

a - MatlofT and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941-42, pp. 224-26; Memo, Brig Gen Thomas T. 
Handy, OPD, for Gen Marshall, 17 May 42, OPD Exec 8, bk. 5. 

33 Two Rads, CofS to DeWitt, 16 May 42, OPD Exec 14; Min, War Council Mtg, 18 May 42, 
SW Conf, binder 2. 

34 Memo, G-2 for CofS, 17 May 42, OPD 381 WDC/42. 

SiJ Rad, COMINCH to CINCPAC (Info copy to CofS), 21 May 42, OPD Exec 8, bk. 5; Telg, 
CofS to CG WDC, 29 May 42, OPD 381 WDC/10; Min, WD Gen Council Mtg, 2 Jun 42. 

3fi Min, War Council Mtg, 25 May and 1 Jun 42, SW Conf, Binder 2; Memos, Col John R. 
Deane for DCofS and CofS, 24 and 31 May 42, OCS file, Notes on War Council; Testimony of 
Gen DeWitt, 12 Dec 46, Report of War Department Civil Defense Board, an. 1, p. 110. 


increased heavy bomber strength from 13 to 60, and it held another group 
of 28 planes ready as a reserve. In addition, it flew three pursuit groups and 
one medium bombardment group into the area, so that the total Army pur- 
suit and bomber strength actually present rose from about 290 to about 550 
planes. Another antiaircraft regiment was added to the defenses, raising the 
total in position to the equivalent of seventeen almost completely equipped 
regiments. Three new barrage balloon battalions were added to the three 
that had been employed in the Seattle and San Francisco areas since January, 
in order to provide additional air defense protection to the Los Angeles and 
San Diego aircraft factories. By the end of May, too, the Army Engineers 
had nearly completed a thorough camouflaging of aircraft factories as well 
as military installations. 37 

At the beginning of this emergency period the Western Defense Com- 
mand had a strength of about 172,000 officers and enlisted men, of whom 
121,000 were in its ground combat forces. The Navy, Marine Corps, and 
Coast Guard added about 75,000 men to the armed forces' strength present 
along the west coast. 38 On 25 May the Chief of Staff ordered the Army 
Ground Forces to make all of its troops within the territorial limits of the 
Western Defense Command available for emergency use and specifically 
directed that four additional combat teams be made ready to supplement 
Western Defense Command forces on receipt of orders from General 
DeWitt. This gave his command two infantry divisions and seven infantry 
regimental combat teams ready for immediate use. 39 The War Department 
made every effort to cover ammunition shortages reported by General DeWitt, 
and by 1 June the Operations Division judged his ammunition situation "in 
general, good." 40 On 27 May General DeWitt placed the Western Defense 
Command on special alert, and three days later the Operations Division 
notified him "of War Department conviction that surprise attacks on the 
West Coast are a possibility from now on/' 41 Despite the continued paucity 
of means for an adequate long-range patrol, at the end of May there was 
little likelihood of a carrier or other serious attack being launched without 

37 Memo, OPD for TAG, 22 May 42, and other papers, OPD 370.5 WDC/18; Memo, OPD 
for CofS, 3 Jun 42, OPD 320.2 WDC/iii. On camouflage: Hist of WDC, vol. Ill, ch. XIV; and 
Min, War Council Mtg, 11 May 42, SW Conf, binder 2. On barrage balloons, see Hist of 4th AA 
Comd, ch. VI. 

38 Memo, OPD for OASW, 28 Apr 42, OPD 320.2 WDC/64. 

30 Memo, OPD for CG AGF, 25 May 42, OPD 320.2 WDC/69; Memo, OPD for CofS, 
3 Jun 42, OPD 320.2 WDC/iii. 

40 OPD Diary, entries of 24 and 25 May 42; Memo, OPD for SOS, 1 Jun 42, OPD 471 

41 OPD Diary, entries of 27 and 30 May 42; OPD Routing Form, 7 Jun 42, OPD 381 



warning, in view of the accurate and detailed information being obtained 
about the movements of the Japanese Fleet. 

The United States Navy virtually ended the threat of a serious attack on 
the west coast when it knocked out the Japanese advance carrier force north 
of Midway on 4 June 1942. Thereupon, the Japanese main fleet and the Mid- 
way occupation force withdrew, although the northern wing of the Japanese 
forces, after bombing Dutch Harbor, proceeded to occupy Kiska and Attu in 
the Aleutians. 42 In effect, the Battle of Midway restored the balance of naval 
power in the Pacific. Although it continued for many months to be possible 
for the Japanese to make a carrier raid in the eastern Pacific, they could no 
longer do so without taking the grave risk of losing the naval strength they 
needed to defend their earlier conquests. 43 

The Japanese occupation of outer Aleutian islands nevertheless intro- 
duced apprehensions of a renewed Japanese offensive toward the Alaskan 
mainland and continental west coast, and Japanese submarine operations 
helped to keep these apprehensions alive. The first of the latter operations 
was a by-product of the Aleutian invasion. The Japanese had given two of 
their plane-carrying submarines, the I-25 and the I-26, the mission of con- 
ducting an advanced reconnaissance of the southern Alaskan coast. At the 
end of May the 1-26 left the vicinity of Kodiak Island and sailed toward the 
Washington coast. One Japanese source claims that the reconnaissance plane 
of the I-26 "scouted Seattle Harbor and reported no heavy men-of-war, 
particularly carriers, there." 44 If true, this probably happened some time after 
the Midway and Dutch Harbor actions; and the flight was not detected. The 
Japanese made their presence definitely known on 20 June, first by tor- 
pedoing a Canadian lumber schooner southwest of Cape Flattery and then by 
shelling the Canadian radio compass station at Estevan Point on Vancouver 
Island. The next night (21-22 June), a submarine fired six to nine jV^-inch 
shells at the Fort Stevens military reservation in Oregon at the mouth of the 
Columbia River, doing no damage. This shelling, insignificant in itself, is 
notable as the first foreign attack on a continental military installation since 
the War of 1812. Finally, on 23 June, two torpedoes missed a tanker off the 
southern coast of Oregon. 45 

42 Morison, Coral Sea, and Craven and Cate, eds., Plans and Early Operations, pp. 451—70, 
describe these operations in detail. 

43 Ltr, SW to President Roosevelt, 19 Jun 42, SW file, War Plans; Admiral Ernest J. King, 
Report on Combat Operations up to 1 March 1944 (Washington: U.S. News, 1944), p. 31. 

44 United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS), Interrogations of Japanese Officials, 
2 vols. (Washington, 1946), Interv 97, Comdr Masatake Okumiya, 10 Oct 45. 

45 Idem; Japanese Monograph 110, pp. 21-23; Hist of WDQ IV, app. 5. It is not clear from 


The final Japanese submarine operation off the west coast during the 
war was undertaken expressly as a reprisal for the American bombardment 
of Tokyo in April. The I-25, with its plane fitted for bombing, reached the 
Oregon coast late in August 1942. On 9 September, this plane dropped an 
incendiary bomb on a forested mountain slope near the coast at Brookings, 
Ore. The bomb started a small forest fire, but this was quickly extinguished. 
Attempts to locate and destroy the I-25 failed. After nearly a month of 
discreet hiding, the I-25 on 4 and 6 October torpedoed and sank two tankers 
off the southern coast of Oregon. These attacks marked an end to direct 
enemy activity off the west coast of the continental United States, although 
the Japanese were to plague it with their "free balloon" operations before 
the end of the war. 46 

In the meantime, as soon as the extent and significance of the Japanese 
defeat at Midway became clear, the Army had begun to reduce its defense 
forces on the west coast. General DeWitt ended the special alert along the 
coast on the morning of 8 June, and by that date the War Department had 
started to recall the air reinforcements that it had rushed to the Western 
Defense Command during the pre-Midway period, 47 By 24 June the bomber 
strength of the Fourth Air Force had been reduced to 3 heavy and 60 medium 
bombardment planes, far fewer than it had had before the May emergency. 
Both the local naval command and General DeWitt continued to urge the 
allocation of more heavy bombers for long-range offshore patrols, but the 
War Department turned them down. 48 The combat teams of the Army 
Ground Forces' divisions within the Western Defense Command remained 
on an "on-call" status for emergency defense use, but under a new arrange- 
ment that did not seriously interfere with their training. 49 During the sum- 
mer of 1942 the Western Defense Command lost two of its antiaircraft 
regiments, but otherwise its assigned ground combat strength was not mate- 
rially changed until the end of the year. 

The west coast theater had a final touch of excitement toward the end 
of 1942 when, on the evening of 2 December, a Navy patrol yacht reported 

the Japanese accounts cited whether both the I -2 5 and 1-26, or only the latter, participated in this 
June operation off the northwest coast. 

46 Japanese Monograph no, pp. 32-33; Hist of WDC, IV, app. 5; Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt 
with Col Robert N. Young, OCS, 13 Sep 42, OCS Tel Convs, bin der 2 ; Min, War Council M tg, 
16 Sep 42, SW Conf, binder 2. For the balloon operations, see the |last section of this chapter] 

47 OPD Diary, entry of 8 Jun 42; various papers, OPD 370.5 WDC/42 ; Min, War Council 
Mtg, 8 Jun 42, SW Conf, binder 2. 

48 Memos, COMINCH for CofS, 17 Jun 42; CG AAF for CofS, 17 Jun 42; and CofS for 
COMINCH, 24 Jun 42. All in WDCSA 42-43 WDC. OPD Diary, entries of 18 Jun and 3 Jul 42 ; 
OPD Routing Form, 23 Jun 42, OPD 320.2 WDC/134. 

49 Min, WD Gen Council Mtg, 21 Jul 42. 



an unidentified group of ten to twenty vessels about 500 miles off California 
and between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The War Department immedi- 
ately reinforced the Fourth Air Force with two heavy bombardment groups 
containing 61 planes, and alerted a third group to act as a reserve. By the 
time the two bomber groups reached their California bases and were readied 
for action — early afternoon, 3 December — the vessels had been identified as 
those of an American convoy. Although the Air Forces carried out this 
reinforcement with utmost dispatch, it was recognized at the time that if 
this had been a Japanese carrier force as suspected it could have executed its 
mission and been out of bombardment range before any of the reinforcing 
planes were ready to attack it. It is therefore evident that from June 1942 on, 
the west coast lacked the air power to forestall a carrier raid, although its 
close-in air defenses for combating one were in good shape. In practice, the 
Army had already begun to apply the policy of "calculated risk" that it 
was presently to extend more generally to the continental defenses. 50 

Defense Measures on the East and Gulf Coasts, 1941-42 

The Eastern Theater of Operations, activated on 24 December 1941 
under the command of General Drum, contained at the outset a far larger 
strength in Army forces than was ever assigned to the Western Theater. 
During the last week of December its ground units included four army 
corps, eleven infantry and two armored divisions, fifteen antiaircraft regi- 
ments, numerous harbor defense forces along the northeast coast, and a 
large miscellany of other forces. Yet this strength was deceptive, not only 
because a large proportion of the units were unready for action but also and 
more significantly because the War Department never intended to bottle up 
such large forces in defense of the Atlantic front. 

Before the activation of the Eastern theater, the War Department Gen- 
eral Staff and GHQ had concluded that the most the Germans could do 
against the coast would be to launch nuisance air or naval attacks against 
exposed objectives, and even these were considered improbable. A land 
invasion in any strength they believed impossible as long as the American 
and British navies controlled the North Atlantic. 51 

50 On the December 1942 alert, various papers, dated 3-8 De cember 1942, OPD 381 W DC/45, 
57, and 58; and Min } WD Gen Council Mtg, 7 Dec 42. See the |last section of this chapter] for the 
reduction of continental defenses. 

51 Memo, WPD for CofS, 13 Dec 41, WPD 3774-37; Memo, GHQ for CofS, 18 Dec 41, 
WPD 4627. 


The Army Air Forces nevertheless planned during December to allocate 
as much air strength to the Eastern theater as it did to the Western. 32 In 
practice, the War Department stripped the eastern air defenses in favor of 
the more exposed west coast and of overseas bases. As examples, the Army 
temporarily closed down eight of its eleven long-range radar stations along 
the east coast in order to provide personnel to operate similar stations along 
the Pacific front; and General Drum estimated that the effective strength of 
the Eastern theater's combat air forces declined by three-fourths during the 
month following the activation of his new command. During this same 
period the Eastern theater also lost one-third of its antiaircraft regiments and 
half of its antiaircraft gun strength. 53 

The above examples illustrate that what the War Department had 
actually done in December had been to assign units to the Eastern Theater 
on a "tentative, tactical loan basis, pending the development and shaking 
down of the war situation/' 54 During January and February units were 
removed from the Eastern theater's command with increasing rapidity, 
either for shipment overseas or for further training in the zone of the 
interior. Finally, when the Eastern Theater of Operations became the Eastern 
Defense Command on 20 March 1942, it lost not only its theater status but 
most of its larger field force units as well. The Eastern Defense Command 
kept only the 26th Division during 1942. This division, with two additional 
regimental combat teams, provided the means for supplying each of the four 
coastal sectors with a regimental combat team for defense against external 
attack, one regiment being held in reserve. The First Air Force also remained 
under the Eastern Defense Command, although its principal activity — over- 
water operations against German submarines — came under Navy command 
on 25 March. In actual numbers the Eastern Defense Command after March 
1942 had about one fourth of the strength originally assigned to the 
Eastern theater in December 1941. 55 

The defense of the Gulf coast from Florida westward came under the 
tactical direction of the Southern Defense Command on 24 December 1941. 
On that date the commander of the Third Army and Southern Defense 
Command, Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger, established a small separate defense 

52 Memo, AAF for CofS, 20 Dec 41, OPD Exec 8, bk. 1; Memo, DCofS for Air for CofS, 
26 Dec 41, WPD 3807-107. 

53 Rpt of Air Officer at GHQ Staff Conf, 15 Jan 42, GHQ 337 Staff Confs, binder 2 ; Ltr and 
Incls, CG ETO to CG FF, 2 Feb 42, AG 320.2 (2-2-42) (5). 

54 Hist of EDC, p. 38. 

55 Hist of EDC, ch. IV; Memo, OPD for TAG, 29 Apr 42, OPD 320.2 EDC/26, listing the 
units assigned to the EDC after the March "shakedown." 



command staff, and through it controlled the Army forces specifically allo- 
cated to the defense of the Gulf coast and Southern Land Frontier. 56 The 
strength of the forces allocated to coastal defense remained nominal from 
the beginning and did not include any combat air forces. As was the case in 
the other defense commands, General Krueger could use his Third Army 
troops to reinforce the coastal forces in an emergency. 57 But the Southern 
Defense Command was virtually helpless to deal with the only real enemy 
threat that developed in its area — the German submarines that began to 
operate oif the Gulf coast during May 1942. 58 

It was America's good fortune that Germany did not know when or how 
the Japanese were going to attack in the Pacific, and therefore that the 
Germans did not plan the extension of their submarine operations against 
commerce into the hitherto restricted areas of the western Atlantic until 
after Pearl Harbor. Futhermore, even after the Japanese attack, Adolf Hitler 
and the German Naval Staff directed most of the German submarine fleet 
to operate during the winter of 1941-42 in the Mediterranean area and off 
the coast of Norway, and therefore the German U-boat command could 
spare only 3 submarines for the initial foray off the coast of the United States 
in mid-January 1942, and only 6 for its February operations there. Even so, 
these forays began to wreak tremendous havoc. With an average of 5 and 
a total of never more than 9 or 10 German submarines operating along the 
east and Gulf coasts, the Germans in six months managed to sink some 185 
ships, totaling about 965,000 gross tons, in these waters alone. 59 

The German slaughter of merchant shipping off the east coast continued 
almost unchecked from mid-January until the latter part of April 1942. 
During this period German submarines sank about 80 ships off this coast, 
and, according to their commanders, bad weather offered the chief obstacle 
to operations. From the beginning of April onward they noted a marked 

56 See the MS History of the Southern Defense Command, OCMH (hereafter cited as Hist of 
SDC), especially for the Army's activities in land frontier defense, not treated in this chapter. 

57 Ltr and Incls, SW to SN, n Apr 42, OCS 21078-70. 

58 See exchanges in WPD 4647, reference the alleged appearance of a German submarine off 
Corpus Christi, Tex., on 28 January 1942, and the futile efforts of General Krueger to obtain any 
effective means for attack. According to the German records, none of their submarines approached 
the Gulf coast until May 1942. 

59 Notes and Incls, Confs of 12 and 29 Dec 41, United States Department of the Navy, Office 
of Naval Intelligence, Fuehrer Conferences on Matters Dealing With the German Navy, 2941, 
2 vols. (Washington, 1947) (hereafter cited as ONI, Fuehrer Conferences), II, 80, 92-96, For 
the number of submarines operating, see Unted States Navy Department translation of Befehlshaber 
der Unterseeboote War Logs for Period 1 January 1941 to 31 December 1943 (the German U-boat 
command, and hereafter cited as B.d.U. War Logs), Jan-Jul 42. For shipping losses, see 
Morison, Battle of the Atlantic, app. I, p. 413. 


increase in American antisubmarine activities, but they reported that at 
first these activities were almost wholly ineffective. The Germans lost their 
first submarine off the American coast on the night of 13 April; then, about 
21 April, enemy submarine commanders began to report a sudden dropping 
off of favorable targets, and after that date the easy pickings off the east 
coast came to an end. 60 

The armed forces of the United States had in fact been almost wholly 
unprepared for submarine attacks off the coasts. Ignoring World War I 
experience and World War II practice, before Pearl Harbor they had not 
even planned on how they might check a submarine offensive off the Amer- 
ican coast line.** 1 The defenses set up in January along the east coast were 
scanty and improvised. Until the end of the month, I Bomber Command and 
the I Air Support Command of the Army's First Air Force conducted all of 
the oversea air patrols along the coast. By 15 January these Army commands 
were managing to cover the offshore area from Hatteras northward with 
fifteen patrols daily, but their personnel and equipment were woefully 
untrained and inadequate for effective antisubmarine operations. 62 Army 
planes continued to provide most of the regular offshore patrols throughout 
the period of intense enemy activity off the East Coast, operating at first 
informally and then (after 25 March) formally under Navy command. From 
the outset these Army operations stripped the east coast air forces of all 
offensive striking power against any other form of enemy attack, although 
an enemy surface attack during this period was admittedly a remote pos- 
sibility. Beginning on 5 March the civilian Civil Air Patrol began to fly 
patrols under the auspices of the I Air Support Command, and its operations 
helped to frighten submarines away from shallow waters near the coast. 
Beginning in April the installation of airborne radar on Army bombers 
greatly increased their effectiveness and made it possible to patrol and to 
escort vessels at night. 63 

00 B.d.V War Logs, entries for various dates, especially the Situation Summaries of 13 Mar and 
12, 1% and 30 Apr 42; Rpt of Commanding Admiral, Submarines, to Hitler, 14 May 42, ONI, 
Fuehrer Conferences, 1942, pp. 82-85. 

61 Morison, Battle of the Atlantic, pp. 200-201 ; Craven and Cate, eds,, Plans and Early Opera- 
tions, pp. 518-19. 

62 Rpt of Air Officer, GHQ Staff Conf, 15 Jan 42, GHQ 337 Staff Confs, binder 2; Hist of 
EDC, p. 41 ; Craven and Cate, eds., Plans and Early Operations, pp. 52 2ff, 

63 Rpt to OPD on Visit to First Bomber and Interceptor Comd, 17-18 Mar 42, OPD 319. 1 
(Rpts — Visits). On Civil Air Patrol, Memo, WPD for SW, 10 Mar 42, and other papers in AG 
381 (3-5-42) ; Min, WD Gen Council Mtg, 21 Jul 42. On radar equipment, Memo, AAF for 
CofS, 10 Apr 42, WDCSA 452.1 ; Min, War Council Mtg, 11 and 18 May 42, SW Conf, binder 2 ; 
and Min, WD Gen Council Mtg, 19 May 42. Craven and Cate, eds., Plans and Early Operations, 
chapter XV, describes the Army's antisubmarine operations of 1942 in some detail. 



In the early days of the German submarine offensive, the most effective 
antisubmarine measures had been movements by night and insistence that 
ships hug the shore line by day. After some initial misgivings, the Army 
finally ordered a stringent coastal blackout to prevent submarines from 
attacking ships silhouetted by lights on shore 64 But, as the Navy insisted, 
the best defense against the sort of commerce raiding the Germans were 
undertaking off the American coast was the organization of all coastal 
shipping into convoys escorted by surface vessels and aircraft. By mid-May 
the Navy was able to convoy most east coast shipping. Within two months 
this system, abetted by the enlarged activity and improved techniques and 
equipment of the Army's I Bomber Command, brought an end to sinkings 
off this coast for the rest of 1942. 65 Within these two months also the Ger- 
mans lost six more submarines along the east coast, a factor that helped them 
to decide on 19 July to withdraw their two remaining submarines, which had 
been operating in the Hatteras area. 66 

After launching an attack in the Caribbean in February, German sub- 
marines in May 1942 began striking at traffic along the Gulf coast of the 
United States. The first U-boat to appear off this coast, on 6 May, met a 
warm reception from United States naval craft and had to limp back to its 
base in France after slim success. But the next two, arriving off the Mississippi 
Delta on 12 May, found rich and easy pickings. Thereafter, during May, the 
losses in the Gulf Sea Frontier (which included the Florida east coast) 
exceeded any single month's loss along the Atlantic front to the north. Late 
in May the Army shifted twenty-five planes of the I Bomber Command 
to the Gulf coast area to combat this new menace. Within the next two 
months the Navy and these Army bombers put a virtual end to German 
submarine operations in the Gulf, but not before the Germans had destroyed 
almost as many ships there as they had sunk in the preceding three months 
along the east coast. 67 

Except for a few mine-laying operations, German submarines avoided 
the American coastal areas from September 1942 until the following spring, 
and their operations thereafter were of nuisance proportions only 68 But in 

G4 D/F, G-3 to TAG, 20 Feb 42, OCS 21349-17; Min, War Council Mtg, 2 and 16 Mar 42, 
SW Conf, binder 2; Morison, Battle of the Atlantic, pp. 129-30. 

65 Memo, Adm King for Gen Marshall, 21 Jun 42, WDCSA 560, presents a comprehensive 
statement of the Navy's position on antisubmarine warfare; the same file also contains many of 
the basic papers on the Army-Navy controversy of 1942-43 on antisubmarine operations. 

66 BJ.U. War Logs, entry of 19 Jul 42. 

67 For the Caribbean operations, see |ch. XV] below; BJ.U. War Logs, various entries, May- 
Jul 42; Morison, Battle of the Atlantic^ pp. 135-44; Min, WD Gen Council Mtg, 27 May 42. 

68 Check of daily submarine positions as given in BJ.U. War Logs, Sep 42-Dec 43. 


the Caribbean and in the wide stretches of the Atlantic, a steadily mounting 
number of German submarines continued their devastating war on shipping. 
To combat them the Army put its east coast bomber strength into a new 
Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command, activated on 15 October 1942. 
The story of this command, and of the issue between the Army and Navy 
over how the submarine menace might best be curbed, has already been 
related elsewhere. 69 

As soon as the number of ship sinkings off the east coast slackened, the 
Germans decided to use some of their submarines to plant mines off the 
entrances of New York Harbor, Delaware Bay, and Chesapeake Bay. Three 
submarines planted mines about 12 June 1942, Boston being substituted for 
New York at the last moment. Only the Chesapeake operation proved 
profitable. There three ships were sunk and two damaged before the mines 
could be swept. The mine laying off Boston, and a similar operation at the 
mouth of the Mississippi on 25 July, went undetected until the opening of 
German records after the war disclosed these actions. Five more mine-laying 
operations along the east coast during 1942 did no harm except to bring brief 
halts to shipping while the Navy disposed of the mines. 70 

A third type of enemy submarine activity created much excitement at the 
time and had much to do with keeping some Army mobile combat forces 
deployed along the coast during 1942 and 1943. On 13 June 1942 the Ger- 
man submarine U-202 landed four enemy agents on a beach at Amagansett, 
Long Island; and on 17 June the U-584 landed four more on Ponte Vedra 
Beach near Jacksonville, Fla. The plans for this operation stated that the 
principal objectives were to engage in "sabotage attacks on targets of economic 
importance for the war" and "to stir up discontent and lower fighting 
resistance." 71 Both groups carried ashore small quantities of TNT and 
incendiary bomb material; in addition, the agents had $150,000 in cash when 
arrested. A Coast Guardsman on beach patrol intercepted the Amagansett 
group as it landed, but faulty transmission of his report permitted both the 
submarine (which was grounded for several hours) and the saboteurs to 
escape. The Florida landing was disclosed the following day by fishermen 
who found the cache of sabotage materials. The Federal Bureau of Investi- 

69 Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, eds., "The Army Air Forces in World War II," 
vol. II, Europe: TORCH to POINT BLANK— August 1942 to December 1943 (Chicago: The 
University of Chicago Press, 1949) (hereafter cited as Craven and Cate, eds., Europe; TORCH to 
POINTBLANK ) , ch. XII; Morison, Battle of the Atlantic, pp. 202fL 

70 B.d.U. War Logs, entry of 19 May 42 and various entries thereafter; Morison, Battle of the 
Atlantic, pp. 136-37 and app. IV, p. 417. 

71 B.d.U. War Logs, entry of 26 May 42, and accompanying directives for operation, dated 
23 May 42. 



gation rounded up the eight agents 
between 20 and 27 June before they 
had done any harm, and six were 
executed on 8 August after trial by 
court martial. 72 

Although these landings were 
the only proven instances of contacts 
between German submarines and 
the shores of the United States be- 
fore 1944, they stimulated both the 
Army and the United States Coast 
Guard to undertake a much more 
active "beach defense" during 1942 
and 1943. 73 The Coast Guard, which 
was under Navy command from 1 
November 1941 onward, had begun 

Infantrymen on Beach Patrol study t0 au S ment its water and beach 
incoming vessel. patrols immediately after the United 

States entered the war. 74 An Army 
intelligence report that German submarines had already landed agents on 
American shores led President Roosevelt on 6 April 1942 to order the Coast 
Guard to expand its beach patrol activities. As a result of the June landings, 
the Coast Guard on 25 July directed the establishment of an organized beach 
patrol system to cover the entire ocean coast line of the United States. 
It directed that the beach patrols be well armed and have as one duty, 
among others, the prevention of enemy landings from submarines or sur- 
face vessels. 75 

The directive of 25 July started a rather heated jurisdictional conflict 
between the Army and the Coast Guard. Beach defense against invasion, 

72 History of the Eatern Defense Command, pages 53-55, and History of the New York- 
Philadelphia Sector, Eastern Defense Command, 67-73, describe the Amagansett landing and its 
accompanying snarl in Army-Navy Communications and co-operation. 

73 J. Edgar Hoover, "New Tricks of Nazi Spies," American (October 1943), p. no. A sub- 
marine Landed two German spies at Hancock Point, Me., on 29 November 1944. They were quickly 
caught by the FBI (Facts on File, 1945, p. 4). 

74 Memo, CNO for CofS, 7 Feb 42, AG 381 (1-27-42). 

75 Min, War Council Mtg, 6 and 13 Apr 42, SW Conf, binder 2 ; Memo, Capt John L. McCrea, 
USN, Naval Aide to the President, for Adm King, 6 Apr 42, and subsequent corresp on Eastern 
Defense Command, EDC 008/555. (This Eastern Defense Command file contains most of the 
basic correspondence with respect to the Army-Navy-Coast Guard argument over beach defense 
responsibilities, April-December 1942,) 


however minute, was a recognized Army mission, and it appeared to General 
Drum in particular that if not challenged the new Coast Guard mission might 
be an opening wedge for the Navy to take over "the whole coast defense." 76 
After much argument among subordinates, General Marshall and Admiral 
King issued a joint directive on 29 December 1942 recognizing beach defense 
as a primary mission of the Army, but also allowing the Coast Guard to 
continue its beach patrol activities in close collaboration with the Army — 
although not under Army command, as General Drum had wanted. 77 

The Army's means for beach defense in the summer of 1942 consisted 
of scattered detachments of the infantry regimental combat teams assigned 
to the sectors. After the Amagansett incident Army units engaged more 
actively in beach patrol, in some instances duplicating the Coast Guard's 
efforts. The joint directive of 29 December 1942 helped to eliminate local 
instances of friction and overlapping activity, and during late 1942 and 1943 
Army units and Coast Guard stations divided up the task of coastal surveil- 
lance. The Army generally patrolled the more open stretches of beach, while 
the Coast Guard handled the more difficult ones that needed the support of its 
inshore picket patrol vessels. The Army retained small mobile forces behind 
the coast line that could be rushed to any threatened point. This system 
continued until late 1943, when both Army and Coast Guard began a rapid 
reduction of their beach defense forces. 78 

Even as this system of beach defense was being substantially improved in 
the winter of 1942-43, the chances of any sort of enemy attack on the coast 
line were growing increasingly slimmer. An Army intelligence estimate of 
8 December 1942, although acknowledging the possibility of submarine, sur- 
face, and air attacks on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, nevertheless held that 
such attacks were highly improbable and in any event incapable of doing any 
great harm unless the course of the war underwent a significant change. 79 
Actually, the Germans still had some schemes for attacking the east coast by 
air, but after the invasion of North Africa it looked to the War Department 
as if it could safely begin a steady reduction of the Army's forces guarding 
the Atlantic front of the continental United States. 

78 Memo, Gen Drum for Brig Gen Kenneth P. Lord, 29 Jul 42, EDC 008/555. 

77 Memo, COMINCH for CofS, 9 Dec 42, WDCSA 660.2 ; Jt Ltr, Acting CofS and COMINCH 
to CG's and Commandants, 29 Dec 42, EDC 008/555. 

78 Hist of NE Sector, EDC, pp. 9, 12-13; Hist of EDC, p. 53; "The Coast Guard at War," 
XVII, Beach Patrol (1945). 

79 Memo, G-2 for OPD, 8 Dec 42, OPD 660.2/33- 



Guarding the Sault Ste. Marie Canal 

The only activity in the Central Defense Command during World War II 
that involved the use of Army combat units was the protection of the Sault 
Ste. Marie Canal and the St. Marys River waterway, which connect Lakes 
Superior and Huron. On the eve of the war nearly nine-tenths of the iron 
ore consumed in the United States passed through the Sault locks during the 
eight months* navigation season between March and November, and all of 
this traffic moved through the American locks of the Sault Canal system, 
located between the American and Canadian cities of Sault Ste. Marie. Since 
there was no other way in which most of the iron ore could be moved, the 
success of the American war effort was v itally dependent on continuing its 

flow through the Sault locks [See Map I. ) 

At the outbreak of the European war the War Department ordered the 
commander of the Sixth Corps Area to take all necessary steps to safeguard 
the Sault waterway. Fort Brady, an old Army post located on a hill overlook- 
ing the St. Marys River valley about half a mile south of the Sault locks, had 
a garrison at this time of four companies of the 2d Infantry; troops were 
therefore readily available for carrying out the War Department's directive. 
On 7 September 1939 the Sixth Corps Area commander reported that the 
Coast Guard was patrolling the canal approaches under Army direction, that 
machine guns and searchlights were being emplaced above the locks, that 
Army guards were patrolling the lock area and the river channel below, and 
that military guards were being placed on all passenger and pleasure craft 
transiting the canal. 80 

These were the only protective measures in effect at the Sault until 1942. 
The War Department studied the possibility of an external attack by air as 
early as the summer of 1940 but decided that the chance of it was too re- 
mote to justify any form of antiaircraft defense. In fact, during that sum- 
mer the Army reduced the Fort Brady force to one infantry company, since 
that was all that was needed for guard purposes. 81 

A Federal Bureau of Investigation survey in the fall of 1940 led to a 
re-examination of the Sauk's defense needs during the following winter 
and spring. In January 1941 the Army presented the problem of co-ordina- 
ting American and Canadian defense measures to the Permanent Joint 

80 Telg, TAG to CG Sixth Corps Area, 2 Sep 39, Ltr, CG Sixth Corps Area to TAG, 7 Sep 39, 
and other papers, AG 821 (9-1-39). 

81 Memo, ACofS WPD for DCofS, 22 Aug 40, WPD 4078-30; Ltr, CG Sixth Corps Area to 
TAG, 17 Jul 40, and Inds, AG 821 (9-1-39) ; Notes on Conf in OCofS, 22 May 4*1, OCS Conf, 
binder 15. 


Board on Defense, and the board recommended that each country establish 
a central authority over the local defenses. The Sixth Corps Area com- 
mander had submitted a similar recommendation. In consequence, the War 
Department obtained President Roosevelt's approval to an Executive order 
that established the Military District of Sault Ste, Marie, effective 15 March 
1 94 1. To command the district the Army chose Col. Fred T. Cruse, who 
previously had been in charge of the security guard for the Panama Canal. 
In April Colonel Cruse met with the officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted 
Police who had been appointed as his opposite number, and thi&vvisit began 
a close collaboration between local Canadian and American military au- 
thorities that continued until 1944. In May 1941 the Army replaced the re- 
maining infantry company with the 702d Battalion, Military Police. 82 

After the United States entered the war the Army was urged from many 
directions to provide the Sault area with troops and equipment that could 
defend it against external attack. As a result of this agitation, the War De- 
partment during January and February 1942 instituted a thorough restudy 
of the problem among its own staff agencies, and again put the subject 
before the Permanent Joint Board on Defense. 83 The Army's Intelligence 
Division and the Army Air Forces agreed that, while no form of external 
attack seemed likely, several forms of German operations against the Sault 
installations were possible: the Germans might send submarines or surface 
ships into Hudson Bay and from its nearest arm — four hundred miles 
away — launch a bombing attack, or they might fly long-range bombers all 
the way from Norway along the Great Circle route, or they might attempt 
a parachute attack from planes flown from Norway, the paratroops carry- 
ing out sabotage after they landed. 84 

In response, therefore, both to outside pressures and to its own convic- 
tion that it was at least possible for the Germans to make a suicidal attack 
against the canal, the Army decided to add sizable increments to the Sault 
defenses. It planned to provide the area with an aircraft warning system, a 
regiment of antiaircraft artillery, and a barrage balloon battalion, and, 
finally, to replace the military police battalion with an infantry regiment 
that would be equipped and qualified to fight parachutists as well as to 

82 Ltr, CG Sixth Corps Area to TAG, 6 Jan 41, Memo, ACofS G-2 for CofS, 12 Feb 41, and 
other papers, AG 821 (9-1-39) ; various papers, dated Feb-Apr 41, in WPD 1398-4, 5, 6, and 7; 
Notes on Conf in OCofS, 22 May 41, OCS Conf, binder 15; Dziuban, Military Relations Between 
the United States and Canada, pp. 193-98. 

83 Various papers, dated Dec 41-Feb 42, AG 821 (9-1-39) and WPD 1398-8, 11, and 13. 

84 Memo, G-2 for CofS, 11 Feb 42 ; Memo, AAF for WPD, 12 Feb 42. Both in WPD 1398-12. 


Guarding the united states and its outposts 

perform routine antisabotage duties. By April 1942 elements of the 131st 
Infantry, th# 100th Coast Artillery (AA), and the 39th Barrage Balloon 
Battalion were at the Sault, and by midsummer the Sault Military District 
contained a mixed combat force of about 7,000 officers and men. 85 

In the meantime the Permanent Joint Board had recommended that 
Canada as well as the United States undertake a more extensive system of 
defenses in the Sault area. The Canadians supplied an antiaircraft battalion 
for their side of the locks area and put it under the operational control of 
the Sault District commander. This Canadian battalion used American guns 
until the fall of 1942. In May Canada agreed to organize a ground observer 
aircraft warning system to cover the region between Sault Ste. Marie and 
Hudson Bay, and 266 observation posts were functioning in the Ontario 
wilderness by 1 September 1942. Canada also allowed United States Army 
troops to install and operate a string of five radar stations across northern 
Ontario, and it provided housing facilities and defense sites on its side of 
the Sault for about 2,000 of the American antiaircraft and barrage balloon 
troops. 86 

The on* defense element that the War Department did not feel it 
could afford to provide for the Sault area was a squadron or more of pur- 
suit planes. In May 1942 it ordered the preparation of three emergency 
landing fields in the vicinity of the canal, and it subsequently directed that 
local defense plans provide for planes of the First Air Force to use these 
fields in an emergency. Actually, the planners themselves appear to have 
realized that it was very unlikely that planes could reach these fields in time 
to participate in fighting off an air attack 87 

To enh|tnce the effectiveness of the ground defenses against hostile air- 
craft, the war Department in April 1942 authorized the establishment of a 
Vital Defense Area that included most of Chippewa County, Mich. On 29 
September this area was enlarged into a Central Air Defense Zone which 
extended to a depth of up to 150 miles on the American side of the water- 
way. Canada established a similar zone to the north of the Sault Canal in 
early 1943. Only controlled flights approved in advance were permitted 
within these zones. Finally, to facilitate security measures on the ground, 

85 Memos, WPD for CofS } 18 Feb and 2 Mar 42, WPD 1398-8; Memo, TIG for CofS, 6 Mar 
42, Memo, WJPD for CofS, 9 Mar 42, and other papers, WDCSA 821; Memo, SGS for ASW, 
6 Apr 42, and subsequent corresp, AG 821 (3-1-42). 

^Dziuban, Military Relations Between the United States and Canada, p. 196. 

87 Ltr, CG CDC to CofS, 29 Mar 42, and subsequent corresp, AG 821 (3-1-42) ; OPD Inter- 
office Memos, 23 Dec 42, ABC 381 Sault Ste. Marie (12-23-42). 


the Secretary of War authorized the establishment of the Sault Ste. Marie 
Military Area on 22 March 1943. 88 

By the end of 1942 the Operations Division acknowledged that the 
7,300-man garrison guarding the Sault Canal area was excessive, particularly 
in view of other measures taken during the year — such as the sandbagging 
of installations and provision of spare lock gates and other parts — that 
made any extended interruption of canal traffic unlikely even if the instal- 
lations were successfully attacked. But it doubted that a contemplated 
2,000-man saving would be worth the political repercussions that would 
probably follow any reduction, and therefore postponed a decision until 
the following summer. Then, as an aspect of the general reduction of con- 
tinental defenses, the War Department ordered that the Sault garrison be 
cut to about 2,500 officers and men by 1 September 1943. 89 Four months 
later the United States and Canada abandoned all of their aircraft warning 
installations and services and removed all of the local antiaircraft equip- 
ment. After January 1944 the United States Army garrison consisted, as it 
had before the United States entered the war, of a single battalion of mili- 
tary police, and even this was reduced to a single company before the end of 
1944. 90 

The Period of Reduction, 1942-4} 

The Army made its first moves toward a significant reduction in the 
strength of ground forces assigned to continental defense in the fall of 
1942. At the beginning of September, the Army Ground Forces urged that 
the three divisions remaining with the Eastern and Western Defense Com- 
mands be removed from them, as a step toward making available as many 
combat units as possible for overseas duty. The War Department merged 
this proposal with a plan to fix the permanent requirements of the defense 
commands for combat ground forces, and to fill these permanent forces with 
limited-service and overage men and officers — the course already followed 
during 1942 in mobilizing military police battalions for use in the zone of 
the interior. General DeWitt readily agreed to return his two divisions to 

88 Memo, OPD for TAG, 16 Apr 42, WDCSA 821; Dziuban, Military Relations Between the 
United States and Canada, p. 197. 

89 Memo, OPD for CofS, 2 Jan 43, and subsequent papers, WDCSA 42-43, Central Def Comd. 
90 Ltr, CG EDC to CofS (Attn: OPD), 21 Jan 44, OPD 384 EDC/10; OPD Memo for Red, 

24 Oct 44, OPD 320 Def of Cont U.S./39. 



the control of Army Ground Forces and to rely thereafter on infantry regi- 
mental combat teams, cavalry, and coast artillery 155-mm. gun regiments 
for his mobile force requirements. But when he learned about the War De- 
partment's proposal to substitute limited-service for general-service troops 
in these remaining mobile forces, he protested most vigorously. Subse- 
quently, the War Department decided to confine limited-service conversions 
in the defense commands to harbor defense and antiaircraft units. Then it 
ordered the Eastern and Western Defense Commands to release their in- 
fantry divisions, less one regimental combat team from each. With other 
remaining forces this change left each coast with four regimental combat 
teams as the principal elements of its mobile force. The War Department 
also directed the Army Ground Forces to maintain a reserve for the Eastern 
and Western Commands by keeping one regimental combat team of each 
division stationed within the confines of these commands ready for prompt 
movement and tactical employment on receipt of orders from the defense 
commander. 91 

The application of these measures during the first half of 1943 made 
a large proportion of the general-service men and younger officers in the 
defense commands available for immediate or eventual overseas employ- 
ment. But the troop strength of the Eastern and Western Defense Com- 
mands actually grew instead of contracting in the first few months of the 
year, primarily because the War Department allowed large overstrengths in 
units being transformed from general to limited service, and these units 
made up nearly three-fourths of the ground combat strength of the con- 
tinental commands. 92 

Before it could cut continental combat-unit strength much further, the 
Army had to change the missions of the commands as prescribed under 
Category C, which, it will be recalled, had been assigned to the east and 
west coast forces soon after Pearl Harbor. Estimates of Japanese capabili- 
ties made from December 1942 onward indicated that, while" the enemy 
still had the means to launch a carrier-based air raid against the west coast, 
such a raid r was unlikely, and serious attacks against the east coast were 

91 Memo, OPD for WDCMC, 8 Sep 42, OPD 320.2 WDC/186; OPD Diary, entries of 11, 
13, 16 Sep and 18 Oct 42; Ltrs, CG WDC to CofS, 1 and 20 Oct 42, OPD 320.2 WDC/194; 
Min, WD Gen Council Mtg, 19 Oct, 30 Nov, and 14 Dec 42; Min, War Council Mtg, 21 Oct and 
4 Nov 42, SW Conf, binder 2; Memo, OPD for AGF, 7 Dec 42; Ltr, TAG to CG's, 15 Dec 42. 
Last two in OPD 320.2 WDC/69. 

92 Remarks about strengths are based here and elsewhere, unless otherwise indicated, on the 
monthly report, STM-30 (Strength of the Army), and the authorized ground force strengths given 
in the OPD Weekly Status Maps, AG 061 (9-4-45). 


even less likely. 93 It was also evident by early 1943 that the United States 
had passed from the defensive to the offensive stage of the war and that 
the Army must concentrate everything it could on the offensive. 94 The De- 
puty Chief of Staff voiced a growing opinion about the continental defenses 
in rather blunt terms when he remarked: 

The basic factors in the defense of the Atlantic and Caribbean are adequate air 
bases linked together by an efficient communications system. The Loran navigation 
system, radar, direction finding stations, and intercept units are needed. . . . These 
installations, plus medium and heavy bombardment, will constitute all the defense that 
is needed and should replace to a large extent our present outmoded system of coast 
artillery defense and large ground force installations. Unless the Army realizes this and 
organizes accordingly, the Navy will gradually take over all responsibilities except 
interior guard. 95 

The Navy agreed with the Army that reductions were in order, but it did 
not feel the existing description of Category B in Joint Action adequately 
covered the current situation. Therefore, after two months of joint consider- 
ation, the service chiefs, meeting on 13 April 1943 as the Joint Board, ap- 
proved a new definition of Category B and directed a reduction in the con- 
tinental defense Category from C to the new B. 96 

Two mbnths later the Army asked President Roosevelt to approve a 
policy of calculated risk that would permit a more general reduction of the 
continental forces. The Army Air Forces, in sponsoring this policy, con- 

The greatest danger we have to face from air attack under the present strategic situ- 
ation is that moderately successful nuisance raids might influence an uninformed Con- 
gress and an uninformed press to divert a substantial portion of our offensive force to 
the protection of the continental United States. 97 

The Air Forces and G-2 both acknowledged that the Germans could launch 
a transatlantic air attack against objectives along the east coast, but the 
small number of planes they could spare and the light bomb loads these 
planes could carry would make such an attack no more than a token effort 
that ought not to justify a continued diversion of American strength from 

93 Various papers, dated 30 Nov 42-22 Jan 43, in relation to CCS 127 and CCS 127/1, and 
Memo, G-2 for OPD, 16 Dec 42, all in ABC 384 North America (11-29-42) ; G-2 Estimate of 
Enemy Capabilities Against the Cont U.S., 30 Apr 43, OPD 320 Def of Cont U.S./38. 

9i Memo, Chief, S&P Group, for Chief, North American Theater, OPD, 9 Feb 43, OPD 381 
EDC/17; statement of Gen McNarney at WD Gen Council Mtg, 22 Feb 43; D/F, OPD to TAG, 
25 Feb 43, OPD 320.2 WDC/241. 

95 Min, WD Gen Council Mtg, 29 Mar 43. 

96 Various papers, dated Feb-Apr 43, ABC 384 North America (11-29-42). 

97 Memo, CG AAF for CofS (Through: OPD), 10 Jun 43, WDCSA 381 Nat Def. 



offensive preparations. 98 In late June President Roosevelt approved the 
statement of policy submitted to him by Secretary of War Stimson, but he 
let Mr. Stimson announce it to the public." 

In mid-1943 the numerical strength of the forces assigned to the con- 
tinental defense commands still amounted to about 379,000 officers and 
men. This figure — almost the peak strength of these forces after March 
1942 — was actually very deceptive as an index of their combat effective- 
ness. The First and Fourth Air Forces contained almost one-third of this 
strength, and their activity had long since been devoted principally to train- 
ing units for overseas service. Ground combat troops within the commands 
numbered about 185,000 officers and men, of whom about 140,000 were in 
antiaircraft and coast defense units. These units and their higher headquar- 
ters had a large proportion of overage and limited -service officers and men. 
Thus, when the War Department began its further reductions of continental 
strengths in July 1943, the number of ground combat units and men within 
the defense commands that could be sent overseas was actually much smaller 
than a glance at their paper strengths might have indicated. 

The impetus for new reductions came not only from the President's ap- 
proval of a policy of calculated risk but also from the War Manpower 
Board, which in a report of 12 June 1943 recommended the abolition of the 
defense commands and the transfer of their functions to -the Army Ground 
Forces. It recommended also that only harbor defense forces and military 
police battalions remain specifically assigned to defense missions; all other 
responsibility for ground defense should be allotted to the combat units 
being trained by the Army Ground Forces. The Operations Division rejected 
these recommendations, but as an alternative it proposed various measures 
that, when approved, were to cut the continental ground strength by about 
70,000 men between July and November. 100 During June, also, a report of 
the Special Army Committee of the Operations Division, which had been 
chosen to consider a revision of the whole military program, recommended 
a more searching examination of the defensive needs of the continental 
United States and its outposts. Approving this report, the Chief of Staff on 
3 July directed the Operations Division to base its calculations in the new 
examination on the assumption that the only remaining dangers to North 

98 D/F, AAF to OPD, 15 Jul 43; D/F, G-2 to OPD, 17 Jul 43. Both in OPD 381 EDC/22. 

99 Ltr } SW to President Roosevelt, 22 Jun 43, SW file, White House. This copy bears the nota- 
tion: "HLS — Okay, you do it, FDR." Mr. Stimson announced the new policy at his press confer- 
ence on 1 July 1943. 

100 Memo, OPD for CofS, 3 Jul 43 ; Memo, Chief, North American Theater, OPD, for ACofS 
OPD, 4 Nov 43. Both in OPD 320 Def of Cont U.S./38. 


American land areas besides the Aleutians were sporadic shell fire from 
submarines, the landing of small raiding parties or saboteurs from sub- 
marines, and token air raids. Although the Operations Division thought a 
further reduction amply justified by the military situation under these as- 
sumptions, it concluded that there were already so many combat units in the 
United States which could not be moved overseas for another year that for the 
time being there was no point in removing any more from the defense com- 
mands than already authorized. 101 

Another step toward a demobilization of the continental defense com- 
mands stemmed from a new estimate of capabilities originating with the 
Combined Chiefs of Staff and approved by them on 16 September 1943. 
This estimate, essentially similar to the one stipulated in the Chief of Staff's 
directive of 3 July, became the basis for putting the continental frontiers in 
defense Category A, a change approved by the Joint Board on 27 October. 
As previously defined in Joint Action, Category A applied to "coastal 
frontiers that probably will be free from attack, but for which a nominal 
defense must be provided for political reasons." Before making the new 
change in category, the Joint Board approved a redefinition that added to 
this the phrase, "in sufficient strength to repel raids by submarines, by sur- 
face vessels operating by stealth or stratagem, or isolated raids by aircraft 
operating chiefly for morale effect." 102 

In November both The Inspector General and G-3 recommended a 
more rapid and radical change in the continental defense structure. G-3's 
comment was very much to the point: 

The provisions under which the defense commands are now established are un- 
sound. The capabilities of our enemies to strike against the Continental United States 
are limited, at most, to nuisance raids. To withhold from offensive action a sufficient 
force to prevent such raids would render far greater assistance to the enemy than he 
could expect from the most effective raids. The existing instructions to the defense 
commanders place on those officers a responsibility without providing definitely defined 
missions or adequate means. The existence of the defense commands creates in the 
public mind a false sense of security. If nuisance raids are undertaken, they will, in all 
probability, succeed to approximately the maximum extent of their capabilities. The 
people of the Nation will believe that the enemy's successes were made possible by 
military inefficiency. The Army will lose highly valuable public confidence. The meas- 
ures which we are about to put into effect for political reasons are thus likely to prove 
unsound politically. . . . The hostile situation and our own critical personnel situation 

101 Memo, ADCofS for ACofS OPD, 3 Jul 43; Memo, OPD for DCofS, 18 Aug 43. Both in 
OPD 320.2/930. 

102 CCS 127/3, 16 Aug 43, copy in OPD 380 Axis/51 ; Memo, DCofS for Secy JB, 30 Aug 43, 
OPD 320.2/930; various papers, dated Aug-Oct 43, in ABC 384 North America (11-29-42); 
Change 6, 28 Jan 42, and Change 13, 1 Nov 43, joint Action. 



no longer justify the retention in the defense commands of any units that are not con- 
tinuously prepared and available for employment in our overseas offensive effort. 103 

G-3 also repeated the earlier recommendation that the Army Ground Forces 
take over the ground defense mission in the continental United States, but 
both the Army Ground Forces and the Operations Division rejected this 
idea and instead agreed on a much more rapid reduction of defense com- 
mand forces. On 3 December the Chief of Staff approved a reduction from 
the current actual strength of about 165,000 to an over-all strength of 
65,000, to be attained by 30 June 1944. The actual strength remaining on 
that date was even less; in fact, the continental defense commands by mid- 
1944 had been put on a strictly "nominal" defense basis. 104 

The disintegration of the air defense system in the continental United 
States during 1943 and early 1944 was more a product of the extent and 
character of the air training program than of a revised estimate of enemy 
capabilities. From mid-1943 onward, the First and Fourth Air Forces had 
far more pursuit strength than they ever had earlier in the war, but the 
planes were being used for training and they had to share the training 
areas along the coasts with Navy and Marine units. The result was that by 
August and September 1943 the coastal areas were so saturated by training 
flights that the aircraft warning system could not function. 105 An Air Forces 
memorandum of November 1943 pointed out this truth and the conse- 
quences when it stated: 

The amount of flying training being conducted in vital defense areas makes accu- 
rate identification of aircraft, a prerequisite to any effective air defense system, an im- 
possibility, particularly with respect to single or small formations of aircraft. 

From the political viewpoint it does not appear sound to maintain an air system 
which is costly in manpower and money and which, in the event of a sporadic raid, 
would be ineffective. Certainly the public, in such an event, would want to know why 
we were maintaining the system when we knew or should have known that it was 
ineffective. A statement that we assume the risk of sporadic raids to release manpower 
and materials for offensive operations would be far better than explanations as to why 
expensive preparations to repel such raids did not work. 106 

After some discussion the Joint Staff Planners also concluded that "an 

103 Memo, G-3 for CofS, 14 Nov 43, OPD 320 Def of Cont U.S./39. 

104 Memo, CG AGF for CofS, 27 Nov 43; Memo, ACofS OPD for CofS, 1 Dec 43; Memo, 
Chief, North American Theater, OPD, for ACofS OPD, 6 Jan 44. All in OPD 320 Def of Cont 
U.S./39. This reduction was completed by May 1944. It left the two remaining defense commands 
with about 25,000 harbor defense troops, about 24,000 troops in twelve antiaircraft groups, and 
about 11,000 in mechanized cavalry regiments. 

105 Ltr, CG WDC to CofS, 30 Aug 43; D/F, AAF to OPD, 23 Sep 43; Memo, Col James K. 
Tully for Chief, North American Theater, OPD, 29 Sep 43- All in OPD 384 WDC/23. 

100 Incl to JPS 333, 1 Dec 43, ABC 384 North America (11-29-42). 


effective aircraft warning service cannot be maintained in coastal areas of 
the Continental United States (even if personnel were available) because 
of the volume of essential flight training in such areas." 107 In April 1944 the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff finally adopted a new statement of policy that in ef- 
fect made the War and Navy Departments rather than the regional com- 
manders responsible for the success or failure of the remnants of the air 
defense system. 108 

During the war the Germans actually engaged in preparations for a 
token air raid against the east coast of the United States such as American 
intelligence had contemplated since the summer of 1943. 109 Long before 
the United States became a belligerent, the German Air Force had under- 
taken to develop a long-range bomber that could make a two-way flight 
across the ocean. In May 1942 the Germans settled upon a model that they 
hoped to be able to fly from the Brittany Peninsula to New York City and 
back. Technical difficulties and the distractions of the Russian campaign 
frustrated this hope, and in June 1944 they abandoned work on a round- 
trip bomber. The possibility of a one-way flight, with submarines to be used 
to pick up the crews after the bombing, offered a better prospect of success, 
and the Germans were working on a plan of this sort in August 1944. 110 
In September German technical experts termed practicable a scheme that 
would have had even more startling results if successful. They had installed 
a launching device on a barge so that a V-2 rocket bomb could be fired 
from 100 miles offshore, apparently with the thought of having a sub- 
marine tow one or more barges across the ocean. 111 

This last scheme was probably the basis for an intelligence report that 
reached Washington on 1 November 1944 to the effect that the Germans 
were fitting out submarines to be used for a robot bombing of New York 
City. Both Army and Navy intelligence officers evaluated this report as "a 
possibility," but Navy headquarters in Washington took it more seriously. 
On 3 November the Eastern Sea Frontier commander was directed to insti- 
tute an immediate saturation air search against submarines within a 250- 
mile arc to the seaward from New York and to secure the help of Army 
planes in doing so. Coincidentally the War Department advised its defense 

107 JPS 333/3, 3 Feb 44, ABC 384 North America (11-29-42). 

108 JCS 807, 5 Apr 44- 

109 p or exam pi C) Memo, ACofAS (Intelligence) for CofAS, 4 Aug 43, copy in AG 381 

110 Werner Baumbach, Zu Spaet? (Muenchen: Richard Pflaum Verlag, 1949), Pp. 157-61; 
MS # P-069, The Kreipe Diary (Werner Kreipe), entry of 21 Aug 44. 

111 Walter Dornberger, V2: Der Schuss ins Weltall (Esslingen: Bechtle Verlag, 1952), 
pp. 263-65. 



and air commanders that the Army's 
evaluation of the report did not 
warrant any positive action. The 
Navy put its search into effect with 
its own planes as best it could on 4 
November, but it took three more 
days to straighten out the tangle of 
conflicting instructions from Wash- 
ington so that an alert with full 
Army participation could be put 
into effect. The alert and search op- 
erations continued until 10 Novem- 
ber, when they were called off. 
Nothing that the air defense system 
of 1944 could have done would 
have stopped this kind of bomb, but 
Japanese Free Balloon approaching the the episode illustrated the existing 
Pacific Coast. " paucity of defense means and in- 

ability of the local service com- 
manders to take rapid co-ordinated action. 112 

Although the Army rejected a Navy proposal for a new over-all command 
arrangement to be applied in emergencies of this sort, General Marshall did 
correct the Army's command system by issuing a new prescription: "In the 
event of imminent emergency as determined by the Commanding General 
of the Defense Command [he is authorized] to assume command of all 
U.S. Army Forces physically located within the boundaries of the Defense 
Command and to notify the War Department of measures which have been 
taken." 113 One alarm in December received prompt and efficient handling. 
On the other hand, the service chiefs were not deterred from their offensive 
course by these reports, and a joint memorandum to the President on 11 
December stated that the "diversion of troops or effort from present 
missions to meet the air defense aspect of the robot bomb threat is altogether 
unjustified." 114 

112 A large sheaf of papers in OPD 384/82 deals with this episode; the account in History of 
the Eastern Defense Command, pages 61-62, is somewhat garbled; Lt. Gen. George Grunert, Com- 
manding General, Eastern Defense Command, in 1944, recalled the incident in testimony given 
on 15 December 1946, in Report of War Department Civil Defense Board, An. 1, p. 222. 

113 OPD Memo for Red, 3 Dec 44, OPD 320 Def of Cont U.S./49. 

114 OPD Summary Sheet, 16 Dec 44, OPD 384/82. 


Three days after Washington received its initial warning of a robot 
bomb attack, the first of the Japanese "free balloons" was recovered from 
the sea off San Pedro, California. About ninety of these balloons — almost 
all of them having bags constructed of paper — were recovered in the con- 
tinental United States between November 1944 and August 1945. None is 
known to have arrived after mid-April. The Japanese launched the balloons 
from the Sendai area of northern Honshu Island. The bags of the balloons 
were 33I/2 feet in diameter and lifted various mechanisms and a load of 
from 25 to 65 pounds of incendiary and antipersonnel bombs. The balloons 
were carried across rhe north Pacific by high air currents in as little as four 
days. About 9,300 were launched, and some drifted as far east as Michigan 
and south into Mexico. Many landed in Alaska and Canada, and a few in 
Hawaii. 115 They did almost no damage, and there is no proven instance of 
a balloon igniting a forest fire. The only casualties traceable to them oc- 
curred at Bly, Ore., on 5 May 1945, when a woman and five children on a 
Sunday School picnic were killed when they tried to take a bomb apart. The 
press co-operated in keeping balloon sightings and recoveries a secret, and 
the lack of news about them may have helped persuade the Japanese to dis- 
continue the operation in the spring of 194 5. 116 

Why the Japanese undertook the free balloon operation is not known. 
A press story from Tokyo after the war stated that "the balloon bomb was 
Japan's V-i weapon in efforts to get revenge for the Doolittle raid on 
Tokyo in April 1942." 117 Japanese preparations for the operation actually 
began in 1942, but they may have been undertaken more as an encourage- 
ment to Japanese war morale than as a method of undermining American 
morale or of inflicting damage. This seems to be the import of the following 
bit of testimony given by a captured Japanese officer: "The bag part of the 
balloons which were being sent to America consisted of hundreds of small 
pieces of paper. . . . These pieces were made by school children all over 
Japan, gathered up village by village, and shipped to a central assembly 
place for reshipment to the factory where the balloons were finally com- 
pleted." 118 In practice, the free balloon operation was so innocuous that 

115 The number that actually reached American shores is indeterminable, since the balloons 
carried a timed self-destroying mechanism and recoveries occurred only when this mechanism 
failed to work. 

116 MID Rpts, especially Rpt 8, i Sep 45, sub: Japanese Free Balloons and Related Incidents, 
ABC 452.4 Japan (1-29-45) ; Hist of WDC, vol. I, ch. 5, and vol. V (which contains the de- 
tailed WDC Intelligence Studies 1 and 2, and the Jt WSF-WDC Plan BD-i^ 15 Aug 45, for 
dealing with Japanese balloon operations) ; Craven and Cate, eds., Men and Planes, pp. 1 16-18. 

117 Quoted in Hist of WDC, vol. I, ch. 5, p. 6. 

118 Quoted in MID Rpt 8, 1 Sep 45, ABC 452.4 Japan (1-29-45). 



American military and civilian officials naturally suspected a more sinister 
ultimate purpose. The Army and Navy collaborated with civilian agencies 
in taking such immediate protective measures as were possible and drafted 
plans for combating any kind of warfare that the balloon operations might 

The enemy threats of the last year of the war had no real influence on 
the reduction and virtual disbandment of the continental defenses begun in 
1942. Very few Army aircraft were actually used for defense purposes after 
the summer of 1942 except in the war against the submarine. The ground 
defenses reached their peak strength in effectiveness about a year after 
Pearl Harbor, and thereafter their actual strength declined much more 
rapidly than their numerical strength, After June 1943 the ground defenses 
were reduced as rapidly as possible under the policy of calculated risk. Hind- 
sight may judge that this reduction should have begun much earlier, but the 
services had always to take political considerations into account as well as 
their own considered estimates of enemy capabilities. After January 1944 
the continental United States had only token Army forces assigned to its 
defense, and even these forces underwent nearly a tenfold decrease in 
strength between then and the end of the war. In August 1945 the Eastern 
and Western Defense Commands still had a complement of about 17,000 
officers and men on duty, but their active defense function had all but 


Japanese Evacuation 
From the West Coast 

One of the Army's largest undertakings in the name of defense during 
World War II was the evacuation of almost all persons of Japanese an- 
cestry from California, from the western halves of Oregon and Washington, 
and from southern Arizona. The Army also removed persons of Japanese 
descent from Alaska and began what was initially intended to be a substan- 
tial transfer of such persons from Hawaii to the mainland. 1 Many facets of 
the story of the Japanese evacuation from the west coast have already been 
related in published works. 2 Here the discussion is limited to the plans and 
decisions for evacuation and to the nature of the military necessity that lay 
behind them. 3 

Initial plans for evacuation of suspected persons from strategic areas 
along the Pacific front concerned enemy aliens of all three Axis nations — 
Germany, Italy, and Japan — rather than persons of Japanese ancestry alone. 
Of the latter, the census of 1940 showed that, out of a total of 126,947 in 
the continental United States, 112,353 were living in the three Pacific 
states. California alone had 93,717 Japanese, or nearly three-fourths of the 
national total. Of the west coast Japanese, 40,869 were aliens ineligible for 

1 On Hawaii, see lch. V 111.1 below. 

2 During the war the Army itself published a detailed report of the origins and execution of 
the evacuation program: United States War Department, Final Report: Japanese Evacuation From 
the West Coast, 1942 (Washington, 1943) (hereafter cited as War Department, Final Report). 
The principal works published since the war are: Mortin Grodzins, Americans Betrayed'. Politics 
and the Japanese Evacuation (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1949) (hereafter cited 
as Grodzins, Japanese Evacuation) ; Dorothy S. Thomas and Richard S. Nishimoto, The Spoilage 
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1946) and The Salvage (Berkeley: University of Cali- 
fornia Press, 1952); Jacobus tenBrock, Edward N. Barnhart, and Floyd W. Watson, Prejudice, 
War and the Constitution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1954) ; and the United States 
Department of the Interior, War Relocation Authority, WRA: A Story of Human Conservation 
(Washington, 1946) (hereafter cited as WRA). 

3 A substantially similar account of the decision to evacuate the Japanese appeared as study 4 
in the collection of studies prepared by the Office of the Chief of Military History, Command 
Decisions (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1959), and as study 5 in the publicly 
printed edition of this work (Washington, 1960), 



citizenship, and 71,484 were American-born citizens. In early 1942 there 
were about 58,000 Italian and 22,000 German aliens in the Pacific states. 
Most of the Germans, and a large proportion of the Japanese and Italians, 
lived in or near the principal cities and adjacent strategic areas. A good many 
of the German aliens were recent refugees from Nazi Germany. In contrast 
to the Germans and Italians, the Japanese in the Pacific states, and especially 
in California, had been the target of hostility and restrictive action for 
several decades, a factor that unquestionably colored the measures taken 
against these people after Pearl Harbor. 4 

The Background of Evacuation Planning 

A prewar agreement made the Department of Justice responsible for 
controlling enemy aliens in the continental United States in the event of 
war. During 1941 this department (primarily, through its Federal Bureau 
of Investigation) scrutinized the records of prospective enemy aliens and 
compiled lists of those against whom there were grounds for suspicion of 
disloyalty. Presidential proclamations of 7 and 8 December 1941, dealing 
with the control of Japanese and of German and Italian aliens, respectively, 
provided the basis for immediate action against those so suspected. On 7 
December President Roosevelt authorized the Army to co-operate with the 
FBI in rounding up individual enemy aliens considered actually or potentially 
dangerous. By 13 December the Department of Justice had interned a total 
of 831 alien residents of the Pacific states, including 595 Japanese and 187 
Germans, and by 16 February 1942 the number of alien Japanese apprehended 
had increased to 1,266. By specifically authorizing the exclusion of enemy 
aliens "from any locality in which residence by an alien enemy shall be 
found to constitute a danger to the public peace and safety of the United 
States," the Presidential proclamations also provided a basis for evacuation 
on a larger scale. 5 

During the first few days after the Pearl Harbor attack the west coast 
was greatly alarmed by a number of reports — all false — of enemy ships off- 
shore, and it was in this atmosphere that the first proposal for a mass 

4 The background of attitudes and action toward the Japanese is described in detail in tenBrock 
et al. T Prejudice } War and the Constitution, ch. I. 

5 Ltr, TAG to CG's, 29 Jul 41, AG 014.311 (1-13-41), sec. 1; Proclamations of 7 and 8 Dec 
41, copies in PMG 014. 311 WDC and PMG 383.01 Hawaii; Tel Conv, SGS with Gen DeWitt, 
7 Dec 41, WDC 381 Rainbow 4; Memo, Special Asst to SW for PMG, 13 Dec 41, PMG 014.31 1 
WDC; Grodzins, Japanese Evacuation, p. 232; J. Edgar Hoover, "Alien Enemy Control/' Iowa 
Law Review, XXIX (March 1944), 396-408. 



evacuation of the Japanese developed. On 10 December an agent of the 
Treasury Department reported to Army authorities that 11 an estimated 
20,000 Japanese in the San Francisco metropolitan area were ready for 
organized action." Without checking the authenticity of the report, the 
Ninth Corps Area staff hurriedly completed a plan for their evacuation 
that was approved by the corps area commander. The next morning the 
Army called the local FBI chief, who "scoffed at the whole affair as the 
wild imaginings of a discharged former FBI man." This stopped any 
further local action for the moment, but the corps area commander duly 
reported the incident to Washington and expressed the hope that <l it may 
have the effect of arousing the War Department to some action looking to 
the establishment of an area or areas for the detention of aliens." 6 His 
recommendation that "plans be made for large-scale internment" was for- 
warded by the Chief of Staff's office to G-2 and to the Provost Marshal 
General. 7 On 19 December, and apparently as one consequence of this ini- 
tial flurry, General DeWitt, as commander of the Western Defense Com- 
mand, recommended to GHQ "that action be initiated at the earliest prac- 
ticable date to collect all alien subjects fourteen years of age and over, of 
enemy nations and remove them to the Zone of the Interior." 8 

However General DeWitt may have felt during December about the 
treatment of enemy aliens, he was then firmly opposed to any evacuation of 
citizens. In a telephone conversation he had on 26 December with Maj. Gen. 
Allen W, Gullion, the Provost Marshal General, the latter remarked that 
he had just been visited by a representative of the Los Angeles Chamber of 
Commerce, who had asked for a roundup of all Japanese in the Los Angeles 
area. In response, General DeWitt said (and General Gullion expressed 
agreement with what he said) : 

I thought that thing out to my satisfaction. ... if we go ahead and arrest the 93,000 
Japanese, native born and foreign born, we are going to have an awful job on our 
hands and are very liable to alienate the loyal Japanese from disloyal. . . . Fm very 
doubtful that it would be common sense procedure to try and intern or to intern 117,000 
Japanese in this theater. ... I told the governors of all the states that those people 
should be watched better if they were watched by the police and people of the com- 
munity in which they live and have been living for years. . . . and then inform the 
F.B.I, or the military authorities of any suspicious action so we could take necessary 
steps to handle it . . . rather than try to intern all those people, men, women and chil- 
dren, and hold them under military control and under guard. I don't think it's a sensible 

8 Memo, G-2 Fourth Army for CofS Fourth Army, n Dec 41, WDC-CAD 014.31 Enemy 

7 OCS Index, 11 Dec 41, Tally Card info re OCS 21227-38 and 39. 
8 Ltr, CG WDC to CG GHQ, 19 Dec 41, WDC-CAD 014.31. 



thing to do. . . . I'd rather go along the way we are now . . . rather than attempt any 
such wholesale internment. ... An American citizen, after all, is an American citizen. 
And while they all may not be loyal, I think we can weed the disloyal out of the loyal 
and lock them up if necessary, 9 

What General DeWitt wanted at this time was the prompt issuance of 
clear instructions to FBI agents on the west coast that would enable them 
to take more positive steps to prevent sabotage and espionage. At his urging 
Secretary of War Stimson had conferred with Attorney General Francis 
Biddle, and thereafter Mr. Biddle speeded up the preparation of regulations 
to implement the Presidential proclamations of 7 and 8 December. Late in 
the month the Department of Justice announced regulations requiring enemy 
aliens in the Western Defense Command to surrender radio transmitters, 
short-wave radio receivers, and certain types of cameras, by 5 January 1942. 
On 30 December General DeWitt was informed that the Attorney General 
had also authorized the issuance of warrants for search and arrest in any 
house where an enemy alien lived upon representation by an FBI agent that 
there was reasonable cause to believe that there was contraband on the 
premises. 10 In addition, the Department of Justice and the Provost Marshal 
General had arranged to send representatives to San Francisco to confer with 
General DeWitt in order to work out more specific arrangements for con- 
trolling enemy aliens. To centralize and expedite Army action in Wash- 
ington, General Gullion also arranged for General DeWitt to deal directly 
with the Provost Marshal General's office on west coast alien problems, and 
for the latter to keep GHQ informed of developments. 11 

The San Francisco conference took place on 4 and 5 January 1942. 
Before the meetings the War Department's representative, Maj. Karl R. 
Bendetsen, Chief of the Aliens Division, Provost Marshal General's office, 
recommended that General DeWitt insist on several measures beyond those 
already ordered by the Attorney General. In particular he urged the defini- 
tion of strategic areas from which all enemy aliens were to be excluded and 
that authority to prescribe such areas be vested in the Army. He also insisted 
that there must be a new and complete registration of enemy aliens and a 
"pass and permit" system similar to the one prevalent in prewar Europe. 
The Justice representative, Assistant Attorney General James Rowe, Jr., also 

9 Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Gen Gullion, 26 Dec 41, WDOCAD 311.3 Tel Conv< 
(DeWitt, 42-43). 

10 tenBrock et al., Prejudice, War and the Constitution , p. 102 ; Memo, Col Archer L. Lercb 
for TAG, 30 Dec 41, PMG 014.3 11 WDC. 

11 Memo, PMG for ACofS G-i GHQ, 1 Jan 42, and inclosed copy of Ltr, PMG to Ger* 
DeWitt, 1 Jan 42, GHQ G-i file, Subversive Activities, WDC. 



presented broader plans for action than the Attorney General had hitherto 
approved. In opening the conference, General DeWitt emphatically 
declared his serious concern over the alien situation and his distrust in partic- 
ular of the Japanese population — both aliens and citizens. But, according 
to the later recollections of Mr. Rowe, the general during the meetings 
opposed a mass evacuation of the Japanese. What he wanted was a full 
implementation of the President's proclamations. The conference ended 
with agreement on a plan of action providing for an alien registration with 
the least practicable delay, for FBI searches of suspected premises under 
regulations that subsequently proved satisfactory to General DeWitt, and 
for the designation of strategic areas from which enemy aliens could be 
barred by the Attorney General, who would "entertain" Army recommenda- 
tions on this score if they were accompanied by an exact description of each 
area, 12 

The arrangements agreed upon at San Francisco took longer to put into 
effect than either General DeWitt or the Justice representatives had antic- 
ipated. The registration of enemy aliens was finally undertaken between 
2 and 9 February, and the large-scale "spot" raids that General DeWitt was 
especially anxious to have launched did not get under way until the same 
week, so that both operations took place in the period when agitation against 
the Japanese was rapidly mounting. General DeWitt had anticipated that 
he could fix the boundaries of restricted areas by 9 January, but it was 21 
January before he sent the first of his lists to Washington for transmission 
to the Attorney General. One of his principal difficulties was to reconcile 
the recommendations of the Navy, which by agreement were to be made 
through him, with the position of the Department of Justice. Navy com- 
manders wanted to exclude not only enemy aliens but also all American- 
born Japanese who could not show "actual severance of all allegiance to 
the Japanese Government." 13 

General DeWitt's recommendation of 21 January, for California, called 
for the exclusion of enemy aliens from eighty-six Category A zones and 

12 Memo, Maj Bendetsen for Gen DeWitt, 3 Jan 42 ; Notes on Conf in Office of Gen DeWitt, 
4 Jan 42. Both in WDC-CAD 014.31 Aliens. War Department, Final Report, pp. 4-6, 19-24. 
Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Col Raymond R. Tourtillott, 5 Jan 42, WDC-CAD 311.3 Tel Convs 
(DeWitt, 42-43). tenBrock et al. f Prejudice, War and the Constitution, pp. 104-05, citing notes 
on interv with Mr. Rowe, 15 Oct 42, 

13 The Twelfth and Thirteenth Naval District commanders made recommendations in identical 
language on this score. Memo, Adm John W. Greenslade, Commandant Twelfth Naval District, 
for CG Northern California Sector, 8 Jan 42; Ltr, CG IX Army Corps to CG WDC, 8 Jan 42. 
Both in WDC-CAD 014.31 Aliens. Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Maj Gen Kenyon A. Joyce, 
8 Jan 42, WDC-CAD 311. 3 Tel Convs (DeWitt, 42-43). 



their close control by a pass and permit system in eight Category B zones. 
Many of the Category A areas were uninhabited or had no alien population, 
but the execution of this recommendation nevertheless would have required 
the evacuation of more than 7,000 persons. Only 40 percent of these would 
have been Japanese aliens, and the majority would have been Italians. 14 The 
Secretary of War's letter (drafted in the Provost Marshal General's office) 
forwarding this recommendation to Mr. Biddle added the following com- 

In recent conferences with General DeWitt, he has expressed great apprehension 
because of the presence on the Pacific coast of many thousand alien enemies. As late 
as yesterday, 24 January, he stated over the telephone that shore-to-ship and ship-to- 
shore radio communications, undoubtedly coordinated by intelligent enemy control 
were continually operating. A few days ago it was reported by military observers on 
the Pacific coast that not a single ship had sailed from our Pacific ports without being 
subsequently attacked. General DeWitt's apprehensions have been confirmed by recent 
visits of military observers from the War Department to the Pacific coast. 

The alarming and dangerous situation just described, in my opinion, calls for 
immediate and stringent action. 15 

Actually there had been no Japanese submarine or surface vessels anywhere 
near the west coast during the preceding month, and careful investigation 
subsequently indicated that all claims of hostile shore-to-ship and ship-to- 
shore communication lacked any foundation whatsoever. 16 Similar recom- 
mendations for restricted areas in Arizona, Oregon, and Washington fol- 
lowed, and were forwarded to Justice by 3 February. 17 By then the position 
of the Japanese population was under heavy attack, and in consequence the 
alien exclusion program was being eclipsed by a drive to evacuate all people 
of Japanese descent from the west coast states. 

Agitation for a mass evacuation of the Japanese did not reach signif- 
icant dimensions until more than a month after the outbreak of war. Then, 

14 Ltr and Incls, CG WDC to Atty Gen (through PMG), 21 Jan 42, PMG 384 4 (California) 
General. The initial Category B recommendation would have affected an estimated 28,672 Italian, 
I 3 ? 3°5 Japanese, and 8,404 German aliens. 

15 Ltr, SW to Atty Gen, 25 Jan 42, PMG 384.4 (California) General. The transcript of General 
DeWitt's telephone remarks reads '*. . . we know there are radios along the coast; and we know 
they are communicating at sea. They may be communicating with each other. . . Tel Conv, Gen 
DeWitt with Gen Gullion, 24 Ta n 42. W DC-CAD 31 1.3 Tel Convs (DeWitt 42-43). 

16 On Japanese operations, see ch. lV| , above; on communications, Ltr, James L. Fly, Chairman, 

Federal Communications Commission, to Atty Gen Biddle, 4 Apr 44, quoted in WRA monograph 
by Ruth E. McKee, Wartime Exile \ The Exclusion of Japanese- Americans From the West Coast 
(Washington, 1946) (hereafter cited as McKee, Wartime Exile), pp. 154-58. 

17 Ltr, SW to Atty Gen, 3 Feb 42, AG 014. 311 (1-13-41), sec. 1, forwarded the Oregon- 
Washington recommendation and reviewed the earlier ones. General DeWitt's final recommenda- 
tion in this series, with respect to Utah, dated 16 February 1942 (copy in PMG 384.4 WDC), 
lists and describes the seven preceding ones. 



beginning in mid-January 1942, public and private demands for federal and 
state action increased rapidly in tempo and volume. 18 Among the first of 
these were letters of 16 January addressed by Representative Leland M. Ford 
of Santa Monica, California, to the Secretary of War and to other members 
of the Cabinet, urging that all Japanese — citizens as well as aliens — be 
moved inland from the coast and put in concentration camps for the dura- 
tion of the war. 19 Behind this and similar suggestions lay a profound suspi- 
cion of the Japanese population, fanned, of course, by the nature and scope 
of Japan's early military successes in the Pacific. A GHQ intelligence 
bulletin of 21 January, for example, concluded that there was an "espionage 
net containing Japanese aliens, first and second generation Japanese and 
other nations . . . thoroughly organized and working underground." 20 In 
conversations with General Clark of GHQ on 20 and 21 January, General 
DeWitt expressed his apprehension that any enemy raid on the west coast 
would probably be accompanied by "a violent outburst of coordinated and 
controlled sabotage" among the Japanese population. 21 In talking with 
General Gullion on 24 January, General DeWitt stated what was to be- 
come one of the principal arguments for mass evacuation. "The fact that 
nothing has happened so far is more or less . . . ominous," he said, "in that 
I feel that in view of the fact that we have had no sporadic attempts at 
sabotage that there is a control being exercised and when we have it it will 
be on a mass basis." 22 

The publication of the report of the Roberts Commission, which had 
investigated the Pearl Harbor attack, on 25 January had a large and immedi- 
ate effect both on public opinion and on government action. The report con- 
cluded that there had been widespread espionage in Hawaii before Pearl 
Harbor, both by Japanese consular agents and by Japanese residents of Oahu 
who had "no open relations with the Japanese foreign service." 23 The latter 

1H Grodzins, Japanese Evacuation, contains the most detailed analysis of the pressures that 
developed during Janua'ry and February for Japanese evacuation. Most of the large number of 
communications addressed to the War Department on this subject, and its responses, are in AG 
014.31 1 files. The first written communication of this sort received by the War Department was 
dated 6 January 1942. 

19 Ltr, Representative Ford to SW f 16 Jan 42 ; Ltr, SW to Representative Ford, 26 Jan 42. Both 
in AG 014. 311 (1-16-42). 

20 GHQ G-2 Infor Bull 6, 21 Jan 42, copy in ASW 014. 311 WDC Gen. 

21 Memo, Gen Clark for Judge Advocate GHQ, 24 Jan 42, GHQ file, WDC: Enemy Aliens. 

22 Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Gen Gullion, 24 Jan 42, WDC-CAD 311. 3 Tel Convs 
(DeWitt, 42-43). 

23 The Roberts Report is published in Pearl Harbor Attack: Hearings Before the Joint Com- 
mittee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack (39 parts) (Washington, 1946) (here- 
after cited as Pearl Harbor Attack), pt. 39, pp. 1-2 1. 



charge, though proven false after the war was over, was especially inflam- 
matory at the time it was made. On 27 January General DeWitt had a long 
talk with Governor Culbert L. Olson of California and afterward reported: 

There's a tremendous volume of public opinion now developing against the Jap- 
anese of all classes, that is aliens and non-aliens, to get them off the land, and in 
Southern California around Los Angeles— in that area too — they want and they are 
bringing pressure on the government to move all the Japanese out. As a matter of fact, 
it's not being instigated or developed by people who are not thinking but by the best 
people of California. Since the publication of the Roberts Report they feel that they 
are living in the midst of a lot of enemies. They don't trust the Japanese, none of 
them. 24 

After another talk two days later with the Attorney General of California, 
Mr. Earl Warren, General DeWitt reported that Mr. Warren was in 
thorough agreement with Governor Olson that the Japanese population 
should be removed from the state of California, and the Army commander 
now expressed his own unqualified concurrence in this proposal and also his 
willingness to accept responsibility for the enemy alien program if it were 
transferred to him. 25 

In Washington, as Major Bendetsen told General DeWitt on the same 
day, 29 January, the California Congressional delegation was "beginning 
to get up in arms" and its representatives had scheduled an informal meeting 
for the following afternoon to formulate recommendations for action. Some 
Washington state Congressmen also attended this meeting, to which rep- 
resentatives of the Justice and War Departments were invited. Major Ben- 
detsen reported General DeWitt's views to the assembled Congressmen and, 
though denying that he was authorized to speak for the War Department, 
nevertheless expressed the opinion that the Army would be entirely willing 
to take over from Justice, "provided they accorded the Army, and the Secre- 
tary of War, and the military commander under him, full authority to require 
the services of any other federal agency, and provided that federal agency 
was required to respond." 26 The Congressmen unanimously approved a sug- 
gested program for action, which called for an evacuation of enemy aliens 
and "dual" citizens from critical areas, but which made no specific mention 
of the Japanese. In presenting the Congressional program to his chief, Major 

24 Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Maj Bendetsen, 28 Jan 42, WDC-CAD 311. 3 Tel Convs 
(DeWitt, 42-43). 

25 Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Maj Bendetsen, 29 Jan 42, as recorded both in WDC-CAD 
311. 3 Tel Convs (DeWitt, 42-43) and in PMG 384.4 WDC; PMG daily Red of Operations, 
29 Jan 42, PMG 384.4 WDC. 

26 Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Maj Bendetsen, 30 Jan 42; PMG Daily Red of Operations, 
29 and 30 Jan 42. Both in PMG 384.4 WDC. 



Bendetsen described it as actually "calling for the immediate evacuation of 
all Japanese from the Pacific coastal strip including Japanese citizens of the 
age of 21 and under, and calling for an Executive order of the President, im- 
posing full responsibility and authority (with power to requisition the 
services of other Federal agencies) upon the War Department." 27 He also 
reported the recommendations as adopted to General DeWitt, who ex- 
pressed general approval of them despite some technical objections. After 
the Congressional meeting its chairman, Representative Clarence F. Lea, 
formally presented the recommendations to the War Department. 28 

The next day, in reflecting on these recommendations, General DeWitt 
recorded this opinion: 

As a matter of fact, the steps now being taken by the Attorney General through 
the F.B.I, will do nothing more than exercise a controlling influence and preventive 
action against sabotage; it will not, in my opinion, be able to stop it. The only positive 
answer to this question is evacuation of all enemy aliens from the West Coast and 
resettlement or internment under positive control, military or otherwise. 29 

What he wanted, he told Major Bendetsen, was the removal of German and 
Italian aliens as well as all Japanese residents and he wanted all evacuees 
from any one particular area to be moved at the same time. 30 

The Department of Justice in the meantime had agreed informally to 
accept General DeWitt's initial recommendation for restricted areas in 
California, and it was preparing to carry out this and other aspects of the 
alien control program. On 28 January it announced the appointment of 
Thomas C Clark as Co-ordinator of the Alien Enemy Control Program 
within the Western Defense Command, and Mr. Clark arrived on the scene 
of action on the following day. On 29 January Justice made its first public 
announcement about the restricted Category A areas that were to be cleared 
of enemy aliens by 24 February. 31 

As a result of the Congressional recommendations and other develop- 
ments, Attorney General Biddle asked War Department representatives to 
attend a meeting in his office on Saturday afternoon, 1 February. There he 
presented them with the draft of a press release to be issued jointly by the 
Justice and War Departments, indicating agreement on all alien control 

27 Memo, Maj Bendetsen for PMG, 31 Jan 42, PMG 384.4 WDC The Congressional recom- 
mendations were a verbatim copy of a draft submitted by a representative of the Los Angeles 
Chamber of Commerce. See Grodzins, Japanese Evacuation, pages 67-69. 

28 Ltr, Representative Lea to SW, 30 Jan 42, AG 014. 311 (1-30-42). 

29 Memo for Red, 31 Jan 42, dictated but not signed by Gen DeWitt, WDC-CAD 014.31. 

30 Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Maj Bendetsen, 31 Jan 42, AG 014.311 (1-13-41), sec. 10. 
31 Dept of Justice press releases, printed as Appendix, pp. 302-14, to H. Doc. 2124, 77th 

Cong., 2d sess. 



measures taken to date and including the statement: "The Department of 
War and the Department of Justice are in agreement that the present mili- 
tary situation does not at this time require the removal of American citizens 
of the Japanese race." In opening the meeting Mr, Biddle stated that Justice 
would have nothing whatever to do with any interference with citizens or 
with a suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. The War Department rep- 
resentatives — Assistant Secretary of War McCloy, General Gullion, and 
Major Bendetsen — agreed to the wording of the press release except for the 
sentence quoted. The meeting then adjourned, the War Department rep- 
resentatives withholding approval of any press release until General DeWitt's 
views could be obtained, and until they learned the outcome of a conference 
at Sacramento that had been arranged for 2 February between General 
DeWitt, Mr. Clark, Governor Olsen, and other federal and state officials. 
Major Bendetsen informed the Chief of Staff's office that the Justice Depart- 
ment's proposal had been held up also because General DeWitt in telephone 
conversations had been provisionally recommending the evacuation of the 
whole Japanese population from the Pacific coastal frontier. In the meantime 
the Provost Marshal General's office had been formulating plans for mass 
evacuation and had already located sufficient nontroop shelter for substan- 
tially all of the west coast Japanese. In a telephone conversation immediately 
after the meeting with Justice representatives, Major Bendetsen reported, 
General DeWitt agreed to submit a recommendation for mass evacuation 
in writing. 32 

Before General DeWitt could report the outcome of the Sacramento 
meeting, Secretary Stimson met on 3 February with Mr. McCloy, General 
Gullion, and Major Bendetsen to confer about the proposed press release 
and the Japanese problem in general. They discussed a proposal under which 
military reservations would be established around the big aircraft factories 
and some port and harbor installations, and from which everyone could be 
excluded at the outset and until they were licensed to return. In practice 
licenses would not be issued to Japanese residents or to other groups or 
individuals under suspicion. It appeared that under this plan citizens as well 
as aliens could be excluded legally without obvious discrimination. 33 

32 Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Maj Bendetsen, 1 Feb 42 ; Tel Conv, Gen Gullion with Gen 
Clark, 4 Feb 42. Both in PMG 384.4 WDC. Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Gen Gullion, 1 Feb 42, 
GHQ G-i file, Subversive Activities, WDC: Enemy Aliens; Memo, Maj Bendetsen for SGS; 
2 Feb 42, AG 014.31 1 (1-13-41), sec. 10. 

33 Stimson Diary, entry of 3 Feb 42. Mr. Stimson jotted down some rough notes of this meeting 
in an undated pencil memorandum, in SW file, Aliens. The press release as issued on 5 February 
1942 is quoted in Grodzins, Japanese Evacuation, 258. 



During the discussion, Mr. Stimson was handed a record of a telephone 
conversation between General Marshall and General DeWitt, who had 
called just as the Secretary of War's meeting was getting under way. In it, 
General DeWitt said: 

I had a conference yesterday with the Governor and several representatives from 
the Department of Justice and Department of Agriculture, with a view to removal of 
the Japanese from where they are now living to other portions of the state. And the 
Governor thinks it can be satisfactorily handled without having a resettlement some- 
where in the central part of the United States and removing them entirely from the 
state of California. As you know the people out here are very much disturbed over 
these aliens, the Japanese being among them, and want to get them out of the several 
communities. And I've agreed that if they can solve the problem by getting them out 
of the areas limited as the combat zone, that it would be satisfactory. That would take 
them ioo to 150 miles from the coast, and they're working on it. The Department of 
Justice has a representative here and the Department of Agriculture, and they think 
the plan is an excellent one. I'm only concerned with getting them away from around 
these aircraft factories and other places. 34 

In other exchanges on this and succeeding days General DeWitt explained 
that what the California authorities proposed to do was to move both 
citizen and alien Japanese (voluntarily if possible, and in collaboration with 
American-born Japanese leaders) from urban areas and from along the 
coast to agricultural areas within the state. They wanted to do this in par- 
ticular in order to avoid having to replace the Japanese with Mexican and 
Negro laborers who might otherwise have to be brought into California in 
considerable numbers. The California officials felt they needed about ten 
days to study the problem and come up with a workable plan. By 4 February 
it appeared to General DeWitt that they could produce a plan that would 
be satisfactory from a defense standpoint. 35 

After the meeting with Secretary Stimson, Mr. McCloy called General 
DeWitt to tell him about the licensing plan and to caution him against 
taking any position in favor of mass Japanese evacuation. 36 The next day 
General Gullion told General Clark that Mr. Stimson and Mr. McCloy 
were against any mass evacuation of the Japanese. "They are pretty much 
against it," he said, "and they are also pretty much against interfering with 
citizens unless it can be done legally." While agreeing that the Stimson- 
McCloy point of view represented the War Department position for the 

34 Tel Conv, Gen Marshall with Gen DeWitt and accompanying notes of Col Deane, 3 Feb 42, 
in OCS Tel Convs, binder 2. 

85 Memo, Gen DeWitt for ASW McCloy, 3 Feb 42, PMG 384.4 WDC; Tel Convs, Gen 
DeWitt with Gen Joyce, 3 Feb 42, Gen DeWitt with Col Bendetsen, 4 Feb 42, and Gen DeWitt 
with Gen Gullion 5 Feb 42, WDC-CAD 311. 3 Tei Convs (DeWitt, 42-43). 

36 Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Mr. McCloy, 3 Feb 42, GHQ file, WDC: Enemy Aliens. 



moment, General Gullion also said that personally he did not think the 
licensing action proposed was going to cure the situation. 37 On this same 
day, 4 February, Lieutenant Colonel Bendetsen (just promoted to that rank) 
in talking with General DeWitt remarked that he was sure that American 
citizens of Japanese extraction would have to be excluded from some areas 
at least. General DeWitt made no direct comment on this remark, but later 

You see, the situation is this: I have never on my own initiative recommended a 
mass evacuation, or the removal of any man, any Jap, other than an alien. In other 
words, I have made no distinction between an alien as to whether he is Jap, Italian, or 
German — that they must all get out of Area A, that is the Category A area. The agita- 
tion to move all the Japanese away from the coast, and some suggestions, out of Cali- 
fornia entirely — is within the State, the population of the State, which has been 
espoused by the Governor. I have never been a body [sic] to that, but I have said, if 
you do that, and can solve that problem, it will be a positive step toward the protection 
of the coast . . . But I have never said, "You've got to do it, in order to protect the 
coast"; ... I can take such measures as are necessary from a military standpoint to 
control the American Jap if he is going to cause trouble within those restricted areas. 38 

Two days earlier, on 2 February, members of Congress from the Pacific 
states had organized informally under the leadership of their senior Senator, 
Hiram Johnson. He had appointed two subcommittees, one headed by Sen- 
ator Rufus C Holman of Oregon to consider plans for increased military 
strength along the Pacific coast, and the other by Senator Mon C. Wallgren 
of Washington to deal with the questions of enemy aliens and the prevention 
of sabotage. On 4 February General Clark of GHQ and Admiral Harold R. 
Stark, the Chief of Naval Operations, offered testimony on the west coast 
military outlook at a meeting of the first of these subcommittees. Before 
they spoke, Senator Holman summed up the situation by saying that the 
people there were alarmed and horrified as to their persons, their employ- 
ment, and their homes. General Clark said that he thought the Pacific states 
were unduly alarmed. While both he and Admiral Stark agreed the west 
coast defenses were not adequate to prevent the enemy from attacking, they 
also agreed that the chance of any sustained attack or of an invasion was — 
as General Clark put it — nil. They recognized that sporadic air raids on key 
installations were a distinct possibility, but they also held that the west coast 
military defenses were considerable and in fairly good shape; and, as Ad- 
miral Stark said, from the military point of view the Pacific coast neces- 
sarily had a low priority as compared with Hawaii and the far Pacific. These 

37 Tel Conv, Gen Gullion with Gen Clark, 4 Feb 42, PMG 384.4 WDC 

38 Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Col Bendetsen, 4 Feb 42, WDC-CAD 31 1.3 Tel Convs 
(DeWitt, 42-43). 



authoritative Army and Navy views were passed on to the Wallgren sub- 
committee, but they do not seem to have made much impression. 39 

On this same day, 4 February, the federal government's Office of Facts 
and Figures completed an analysis of a hasty survey of public opinion in 
California and concluded: ' Even with such a small sample, . . . one can 
infer the situation in California is serious; that it is loaded with potential 
dynamite; but that it is not as desperate as some people believe." 40 A con- 
temporary Navy report described what was happening to the Japanese popu- 
lation in the Los Angeles area in these words: " , . . loss of employment and 
income due to anti-Japanese agitation by and among Caucasian Americans, 
continued personal attacks by Filipinos and other racial groups, denial of 
relief funds to desperately needy cases, cancellation of licenses for markets, 
produce houses, stores, etc., by California State authorities, discharges from 
jobs by the wholesale, [and] unnecessarily harsh restrictions on travel in- 
cluding discriminatory regulations against all Nisei preventing them from 
engaging in commercial fishing." While expressing opposition to any mass 
evacuation of the Japanese, the report concluded that if practices such as 
those described continued there would "most certainly be outbreaks of 
sabotage, riots, and other civil strife in the not too distant future." 41 

The Decision for Mass Evacuation 

It was within this setting that Colonel Bendetsen on 4 February ad- 
dressed a long memorandum to General Gal lion which concluded that an 
enemy alien evacuation "would accomplish little as a measure of safety/' 
since the alien Japanese were mostly elderly people who could do little harm 
if they would. Furthermore, their removal would inevitably antagonize 
large numbers of their relatives among the American-born Japanese. After 
considering the various alternatives that had been suggested for dealing with 
citizens, Colonel Bendetsen recommended the designation of military areas 

30 Memo for Red, Chief, WD Liaison Br ( 6 Feb 41, GHQ file, WDO Protection of Vital 
installations; Grodzins. }ap^t Evacuation, pp. 71-73; H. Doc j 9 it, 77th Cong, 2d sess M 
PP- 2 ^3- 

*° Memo, Bur of Intelligence for Dir OFF, 4 Feb 42, copy in ASW 014.311 Enemy Aliens on 
the We-st Coast (EAWC). 

41 Kpt, it Comdr KX>. RmgJe, Eleventh Naval District, through Commandant to CNO, no date, 
copy in ASW 014.311 EAWC From the contents of this report, the author concludes that It was 
written about 1 February 194a, rather than ten days later as indicated in Grodzins, Japanese 
Evacuation* p. 146, note 46. The substance of this report, the most detailed and sympathetic: military 
analysis of the Japanese problem in early 194a, was anonymously published in Harpers Magazine, 
October 1942, pp. 489-97- 



from which all persons who did not have permission to enter and remain 
would be excluded as a measure of military necessity. In his opinion, this 
plan was clearly legal and he recommended that it be executed by three 
steps: first, the issuance of an Executive order by the President authorizing 
the Secretary of War to designate military areas; second, the designation of 
military areas upon the recommendation of General DeWitt; and, third, the 
immediate evacuation from areas so designated of all persons to whom it 
was not proposed to issue licenses to re-enter or remain. Colonel Bendetsen 
assumed that, if military areas were established on the west coast in place 
of all Category A areas thus far recommended by General DeWitt, about 
30,000 people would have to be evacuated. On the same day, Colonel 
Bendetsen's division drafted a proposal for applying the military area 
scheme to the entire nation. 42 

The Deputy Provost Marshal General, Col. Archer L. Lerch, indorsed 
Colonel Bendetsen's proposals, and in doing so commented on what he 
called the "deciding weakening of General DeWitt" on the question of 
Japanese evacuation, which he considered "most unfortunate." He also 
thought the plan for resettlement within California being worked out be- 
tween General DeWitt and the state authorities savored "too much of the 
spirit of Rotary" and overlooked "the necessary cold-bloodedness of war." 43 
General Gullion presented a condensed version of Colonel Bendetsen's ob- 
servations and recommendations to Mr. McCloy on 5 February. He also 
noted that General DeWitt had changed his position and now appeared to 
favor a more lenient treatment of the American-born Japanese to be worked 
out in co-operation with their leaders; in General Gullion's opinion, such 
co-operation was dangerous and the delay involved was "extremely danger- 
ous." 4i A revision of his memorandum, with all reference to General DeWitt 
deleted, became the Provost Marshal General's recommendation of 6 Feb- 
ruary to Mr. McCloy that steps be taken immediately to eliminate what 
General Gullion described as the great danger of Japanese-inspired sabotage 
on the west coast. He advised that these steps should include the internment 
by the Army of all alien Japanese east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, 
together with as many citizen members of their families as would voluntarily 

42 Memo, Col Bendetsen for PMG, 4 Feb 42, PMG 014.31 1 Gen P/W; Memo, PMG for 
CofS, 4 Feb 42, and inclosed draft of TAG letter to corps area commanders, submitted to CCS at 
3:00 p.m., 11 Feb 42, PMG 384.4 Gen. On the outcome of the proposal to extend the military 
area scheme throughout the continental United States, see IChapter "III above, and this chapter, 

I pp. 144-4TI below. 

43 Memo, Deputy PMG for PMG, 4 Feb 42, PMG 384.4 WDC 

44 Memo, PMG for ASW, 5 Feb 4 2, ASW 014.31 1 EAWC. 



accompany them, and the exclusion of all citizen Japanese from restricted 
zones and their resettlement with the assistance of various federal agencies. 45 

On the following day, 7 February, Colonel Bendetsen read General Gul- 
lion's memorandum to General DeWitt, who expressed some enthusiasm 
for its recommendations but who did not want to indorse them without 
further study. 46 On the same day Colonel Bendetsen drafted an acknowl- 
edgement to the Congressional letter of 30 January, which affirmed that "an 
adequate solution" for the west coast situation would be "formulated and 
recommended in the very near future." 47 By 7 February, also, Mr. McCloy 
had decided to send Colonel Bendetsen to the west coast "to confer with 
General DeWitt in connection with mass evacuation of all Japanese," 48 a 
mission that was presently to produce new and detailed recommendations 
from the west coast commander. 49 

In the meantime, the War and Justice Departments had been approach- 
ing an impasse over the area evacuations contemplated under the enemy 
alien control program. After agreeing informally to accept General DeWitt's 
initial California recommendation, Justice officials balked at accepting the 
very large Category A areas he recommended for Washington and Oregon, 
since they included the entire cities of Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland. The 

45 Memo, PMG for ASW, 6 Feb 42, ASW 014.31 1 EAWC After Secretary Stimsons con- 
versation with President Roosevelt on n February (see below), General Gullion sent a copy of 
this memorandum to General Marshall, who initialed it and circulated it to the War Plans Division 
and GHQ (copy in AG 014.311 (1-13-41), sec. 1). The author has been unable to find evidence 
that General Marshall took any part in or was informed of developments in the planning of Jap- 
anese evacuation between 3 and 11 February. 

46 Two Tel Convs, Gen DeWitt with Col Bendetsen, 7 Feb 42, WDC-CAD 31 1.3 Tel Convs 
(DeWitt, 42-43). 

47 Sent as Ltr, SW to Representative Lea, 10 Feb 42, AG 014,311 (1-30-42), 

4S This quotation is from an OCS condensation (on Tally Card 31 in re OCS 21227—88) of 
information in the PMG daily Record of Operations of 7 February 1942 (an item that General 
Marshall did not see). The file of this daily PMG compilation, if it could be found, would be 
a valuable additional source for the story of Japanese evacuation planning but it was probably 

49 During the midst of their drafting, on 11 February, General DeWitt referred to them collec- 
tively as "the plan that Mr. McCloy wanted me to submit." Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt and Col 
Bendetsen with Gen Gullion, n Feb 42, WDC-CAD 311. 3 Tel Convs (DeWitt, 42-43). No 
direct evidence of the nature of the Assistant Secretary's instructions to Colonel Bendetsen has 
been found, but in ASW 014. 311 EAWC there is a Memo for Record, 8 February 1942, unsigned 
and with no indication of authorship, that reads in part as follows: 
Japanese Evacuation, West Coast 

Prepare definite instructions for DeWitt on following basis: 
Select key points where danger is great and size not too large. 
Put them in order of importance. 
Evacuate everybody, aliens and citizens. 
Institute system of permits. 

Whole matter to be handled by Army authorities. 

Then, as matter progresses, we will soon find out how far we can go. 



execution of this recommendation would have required the evacuation of 
about 10,700 additional enemy aliens and, as in the case of California, only 
about 40 percent of these would have been Japanese. As a practical matter 
the Department of Justice would have found it extremely difficult to supply 
either the manpower or the internment facilities that a compulsory evacu- 
ation of 17,000 or 18,000 enemy aliens would have required, and by 4 Feb- 
ruary its representatives were intimating that, if there were any further 
Category A recommendations or if the evacuation of any citizens were to be 
involved, Justice would have to bow out and turn its evacuation responsi- 
bilities over to the War Department. General DeWitt on 4 February was 
considering putting the whole Los Angeles area into Category A, because 
his Air commander had recommended Category A zones around 220 differ- 
ent installations that, when plotted on the map, almost blanketed the area 
anyway. For the same reason, General DeWitt believed he might have to 
put all of San Diego in Category A also. 50 He finally recommended the 
blanket Category A coverage of these two cities on 7 February, and five days 
later he recommended that almost all of the San Francisco Bay area be put 
in Category A. If all of General DeWitt's recommendations for Category A 
areas through 12 February had been accepted, it would have made necessary 
the evacuation of nearly 89,000 enemy aliens from areas along the Pacific 
coast — only 25,000 of whom would have been Japanese. 51 Additionally, of 
course, General DeWitt was counting upon the California state authorities 
to persuade the citizen Japanese to evacuate California's urban areas and 
other sensitive points along the coast. 

On 9 February Attorney General Biddle formally agreed to announce 
the Category A areas initially recommended for Arizona, California, Oregon, 

50 Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Col Bendetsen, 4 Feb 42 ; Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Gen 
Gullion and Col Bendetsen, 4 Feb 42, Both in GHQ G-i file, Subversive Activities, WDC. Memo, 
CG WDC for PMG, 5 Feb 42, PMG 384.4 WDC. The memo also contained General DeWitt's 
detailed justification for the Washington-Oregon recommendation, which Justice had requested 
and this information was transmitted to Justice by Ltr, SW to Atty Gen, 11 Feb 42, PMG 
384.4 WDC. 

51 The statistics in this paragraph have been compiled from General DeWitt's several recom- 
mendations and supplementary communications that he wrote in justification of them, which are 
located in various PMG files. None of the enemy alien program recommendations submitted by 
General DeWitt through 16 February included any American citizens of Japanese or other 
extraction. The concentration of the Japanese population near strategic points seemed in itself to 
be sinister in 1942 and was advanced in the War Department, Final Report (p. 9) as one of 
the reasons that made their evacuation necessary. Actually, there was a greater proportionate 
concentration of German and Italian aliens near strategic points than there was of Japanese. 
General DeWitt's Category A recommendations would have affected nine-tenths of the west coast 
German alien population and nearly three-fourths of the Italian aliens, but less than two-thirds of 
the Japanese aliens. 



and Washington as prohibited to enemy aliens by 15 or 24 February — with 
the latter date applicable to those areas that had a considerable alien popu- 
lation. But Mr. Biddle questioned the necessity of forcibly excluding German 
and Italian aliens from all of these areas and wondered why whole cities 
had been included in Washington and Oregon and none in California. He 
added that if, as he had been informally advised, all of Los Angeles County 
was going to be recommended as a Category A area, the Department of 
Justice would have to step out of the picture because it did not have the 
physical means to carry out a mass evacuation of this scope. In conclusion, he 
stated that the Department of Justice was not authorized under any circum- 
stances to evacuate American citizens; if the Army for reasons of military 
necessity wanted that done in particular areas, the Army itself would have 
to do it. 52 

The Attorney General's stand led naturally to the drafting of a War 
Department memorandum summarizing the "questions to be determined re 
Japanese exclusion" that needed to be presented to President Roosevelt for 
decision. These questions were: 

(1) Is the President willing to authorize us to move Japanese citizens as well as 
aliens from restricted areas? 

(2) Should we undertake withdrawal from the entire strip DeWitt originally 
recommended, which involves a number of over 100,000 people, if we included both 
aliens and Japanese citizens? 

(3) Should we undertake the intermediate step involving, say, 70,000, which in- 
cludes large communities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle? 

(4) Should we take any lesser step such as the establishment of restricted areas 
around airplane plants and critical installations, even though General DeWitt states 
that in several, at least, of the large communities this would be wasteful, involve 
difficult administrative problems, and might be a source of more continuous irritation 
and trouble than 100 percent withdrawal from the area? 53 

After a morning conference with Mr. McCIoy and General Clark about 
the alternative courses proposed, Mr. Stimson tried to see the President to 
discuss them with him. Mr. Roosevelt was too busy for an interview, but 
in a telephone call at 1:30 p.m. the Secretary after describing the situation 
to the President "fortunately found that he was very vigorous about it and 

52 Ltr, Atty Gen to SW, 9 Feb 42, quoted verbatim in Tel Conv, Col Bryan with Col 
Bendetsen, n Feb 42, WDC-CAD 311. 3 Tel Convs (Bendetsen, Feb-Mar 42). 

53 Memo for Red (unsigned), 11 Feb 42, ASW 014. 311 EASC. The figures given in (2) 
and (3) are about equal to the population of Japanese descent that these steps would affect. 
It is also evident from Mr. Stimson's diary entries of 10 and 11 February that these proposals 
did not contemplate any mass evacuation of German or Italian aliens. A re- examination of the 
diary has resulted in a significant alteration in the account previously published in Command 
Decisions about what happened on 11 February. 



[he] told me to go ahead on the line that I had myself thought the best." 54 
What Mr. Stimson thought best at this time, according to his Diary, was 
to begin as quickly as possible with the evacuation of both citizen and alien 
Japanese from the vicinity of ''the most vital places of army and navy 
production." 65 

In reporting Mr. Stimson's conversation with the President to San 
Francisco, Mr. McCloy told Colonel Bendetsen that "we have carte blanche 
to do what we want to as far as the President's concerned," and that Mr. 
Roosevelt had specifically authorized the evacuation of citizens, Mr. McCloy 
said that the President had recognized that there probably would be some 
repercussions to the evacuation of citizens, but that what was to be done 
had to be dictated by the military necessity of the situation, subject only to 
the qualification, "Be as reasonable as you can." The Assistant Secretary also 
told Colonel Bendetsen that he thought the President was prepared to sign 
an Executive order giving the War Department the authority to carry out 
whatever action it decided upon. 56 

The President's decisions as reported by Mr. McCloy gave an under- 
standable impetus to the preparation of new written recommendations by 
General DeWitt, which with the assistance of Colonel Bendetsen he had 
begun to draft on the evening of io February. These were embodied in a 
formal memorandum for the Secretary of War of 13 February, which was 
forwarded with a covering memorandum for GHQ via air mail. 57 General 
DeWitt's new recommendations differed from those he had already sub- 
mitted under the enemy alien control program in only one important par- 
ticular: he recommended the enforced evacuation by federal authority of the 
American-born Japanese from the Category A areas already recommended 
by him in previous letters to the Secretary of War. 58 His memorandum 

54 Stimson Diary, entry of 1 1 Feb 42 . 
ss Ibid. 

58 Tel Conv, Mr. McCloy with Col Bendetsen, 11 Feb 42, 11:15 a.m. Pacific Time, WDC-CAD 
3 11. 3 Tel Convs (Bendetsen, Feb-Mar 42). 

57 Memo, CG WDC for SW (through CG FF), 13 Feb 42> and covering Memo, CG WDC 
for CG FF GHQ, 14 Feb 42, originals in PMG 014.31 1 WDC. The basic memorandum is pub- 
lished in War Department, Final Report, pages 33—38, where it is erroneously dated 14 February. 
As of 11 February, General DeWitt was planning to have Colonel Bendetsen carry his recommen- 
dations back to Washington,* but on 12 February, because of the general's doubt that GHQ and 
General Marshall had been "thoroughly informed" of developments, he decided to submit them 
through the normal channels of communication. Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Gen Clark, 12 Feb 
42; Tel Conv, Gen Gullion with Col Bendetsen, 14 Feb 42. Both in WDC-CAD 31 1.3 Tel 
Convs (DeWitt, 42-43). 

58 The recommendations of the 13 February memorandum are described below at greater 
length in connection with the discussion of the War Department's directives of 20 February. 



reached GHQ at 5:00 p.m., 18 February. On 19 February it was decided at 
a GHQ staff conference not to concur in General DeWitt's recommenda- 
tions, and instead to recommend to General Clark that only enemy alien 
leaders be arrested and interned. General Clark, being aware of develop- 
ments in the War Department, must have realized the futility of a GHQ 
nonoccurrence. 59 On 20 February GHQ sent General DeWitt's memoranda 
to the War Department through normal channels, with an indorsement that 
they were being ( ' transmitted in view of the proposed action already decided 
upon by the War Department." 60 They finally reached the Provost Marshal 
General's office "for remark and recommendation" on 24 February, the day 
after General DeWitt received new instructions from the War Department 
that differed in many particulars from the recommendations he had sub- 
mitted. 61 

In the meantime, on 13 February, the Pacific coast Congressional sub- 
committee on aliens and sabotage had adopted the following recommenda- 

We recommend the immediate evacuation of all persons of Japanese lineage and 
all others, aliens and citizens alike, whose presence shall be deemed dangerous or 
inimical to the defense of the United States from all strategic areas. 

In defining said strategic areas we recommend that such areas include all military 
installations, war industries, water and power installations, oil fields, and refineries, 
transportation and other essential facilities as well as adequate protective areas adjacent 

We further recommend that such areas be enlarged as expeditiously as possible until 
they shall encompass the entire strategic area of the states of California, Oregon and 
Washington, and Territory of Alaska. 

These recommendations were forwarded to President Roosevelt with a 
covering letter of the same date signed on behalf of the entire west coast 
Congressional delegation. 62 On 16 February the President sent the letter 
and its inclosed recommendations to Secretary Stimson, with a memorandum 

59 Both the original and carbon of General DeWitt's recommendations in AG 014.311 
(1-13-41), sec. 10, are stamped to indicate receipt in GHQ on the date and at the hour indi- 
cated. As Colonel Bendetsen said on 19 February, the DeWitt recommendations "must have hit the 
wrong air line." Tel Conv, Col Bendetsen with Col Donald A. Stroh, 19 Feb 42, PMG 384.4 
WDC The GHQ action is recorded in GHQ 337 Staff Confs, binder 2, entry of 19 Feb 42 ; and in 
Memo, G-5 Sec GHQ for Gen Clark, 19 Feb 42, GHQ file, WDC: Enemy Aliens. 

60 1st Ind, GHQ for TAG, 20 Feb 42, on Memo, CG WDC for CG FF, 14 Feb 42, GHQ 
file, WDC: Enemy Aliens. 

61 2d Ind, TAG for PMG, 22 Feb 42, on Memo, CG WDC for CG FF, 14 Feb 42, PMG 
014.31 1 WDC. Stamped RECEIVED IN PMG, 11:00 A.M. 24 Feb 42. 

62 Recommendations inclosed in Ltr, Senator Holman, Senator Wallgren, Representatives Lea, 
et d., to President Roosevelt, 13 Feb 42, AG 014.3 11 (2-16-42). 



that read: "Will you please be good enough to reply to Congressman Lea 
in regard to the enclosed letter." 63 

On the same day, 16 February, Colonel Bendetsen boarded an airplane 
in San Francisco, and he reached the War Department's offices in Washing- 
ton about noon on 17 February. 64 Before his arrival the Provost Marshal 
General's office initiated a telegraphic survey among the corps area com- 
manders with the following message: 

Probable that orders for very large evacuation of enemy aliens of all nationalities 
predominantly Japanese from Pacific Coast will issue within 48 hours. Internment 
facilities will be taxed to utmost. Report at once maximum you can care for, including 
housing, feeding, medical care, and supply. Your breakdown should include number of 
men, women, and children. Very important to keep this a closely guarded secret. 65 

A follow-up letter explained that 100,000 enemy aliens would be involved, 
60,000 of whom would be women and children, and that all were to be 
interned east of the Western Defense Command, "50 percent in the Eighth 
Corps Area, 30 percent in the Seventh, and 10 percent each in the Fourth 
and Sixth." 68 There were three reasons for the intention (as of 17 February) 
for removing the Pacific coast Japanese to areas east of the Western Defense 
Command. Since mid-December General DeWitt had insisted that intern- 
ment of enemy aliens ought to be outside his theater of operations ; some of 
the governments of the intermountain states had already indicated that they 
would not countenance any free settlement of the west coast Japanese within 
their borders; and, lastly, an Army survey of existing facilities for intern- 

63 Memo, President Roosevelt for SW, 16 Feb 42, AG 014.311 (2-16-42), received in 
Secretary's office at 9:11 a.m., 17 Feb 42. 

64 Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Gen Gullion, 17 Feb 42, ASW 014. 311 EAWC In its Final 
Report, the War Department stated (page 25): "The War Department representative [Colonel 
Bendetsen] carried back to the Secretary the recommendation of the Commanding General that 
some method be developed empowering the Federal Government to provide for the evacuation 
from sensitive areas of all persons of Japanese ancestry, and any other persons individually or 
collectively regarded as potentially dangerous. The Commanding General's proposal was reduced 
to writing in a memorandum for the Secretary of War, dated February 14, 1942. . . .This recom- 
mendation was presented to the Secretary of War on or about February 16th." No other 
evidence was found that the recommendations contained in General DeWitt's memorandum to 
the Secretary of War were considered or referred to in the preparation of new War Department 
directives on the subject between 17 and 20 February, After these directives were drafted and 
after talking with General DeWitt on 20 February, Colonel Bendetsen wrote to the Secretary 
of War: "It was I who misunderstood General DeWitt's plan. — he has no mass movement in 
mind." Memo, Col Bendetsen for SW, 21 Feb 42, and atchd transcript of Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt 
with Col Bendetsen, 20 Feb 42, in SW file, Aliens. 

65 Memo, PMG for TAG, 17 Feb 42, PMG 384.4 WDC. The copy bears the notation: "Gen 
Gullion took this up in person with Mr. McCloy who approves." 

C6 Ltr, TAG to CG's, Corps Areas, 17 Feb 42, PMG 384.4 WDC. The reference to all 
Japanese residents as aliens was rather frequent practice in Army exchanges on the subject during 
February 1942. 



ment in the five interior states of the Ninth Corps Area disclosed that they 
could not accommodate more than 2,500 people. 67 

The War Department's plan for mass evacuation took definite shape in 
an afternoon conference on 17 February of Secretary Stimson with Mr. 
McCloy, General Gullion, General Clark, and Colonel Bendetsen. Despite 
General Clark's protest that any mass evacuation would involve the use of 
too many troops, Mr. Stimson decided that General DeWitt should be in- 
structed to commence an evacuation immediately and to the extent he 
deemed necessary for the protection of vital installations. After the meeting 
General Clark consulted his GHQ chief, General McNair, who decided that 
General DeWitt should not be allotted any additional troops for evacuation 
purposes. 68 

On the evening of 17 February, Mr. McCloy, General Gullion, and 
Colonel Bendetsen met with Justice representatives at the home of Attorney 
General Biddle. After some preliminary discussion, General Gullion pulled 
from his pocket and proceeded to read the draft of a proposed Presidential 
Executive order that would authorize the Secretary of War to remove both 
citizens and aliens from areas that he might designate. Mr. Biddle accepted 
the draft without further argument, because the President had already indi- 
cated to him that this was a matter for military decision. After several more 
meetings between Justice and Army officials during the next two days, the 
Executive order was presented to the President and signed by him late on 19 
February. 69 Between 18 and 20 February Mr. McCloy, General Gullion, and 
Colonel Bendetsen drafted the instructions for General DeWitt to guide his 
execution of the evacuation plan, and embodied them in two letter directives, 
both dated 20 February. 70 

On 21 February the Secretary of War, in accordance with the President's 
request, answered the Congressional letter of 13 February by assuring the 

67 This last point was already fully appreciated in Washington but was confirmed by Rad, CG 
Ninth Corps Area to TAG, 18 Feb 42, PMG 014. 311 Corps Area Rpts on Housing Facilities. 

08 Stimson Diary, entry of 17 Feb 42; Memo for Red, Gen Clark, 17 Feb 42, GHQ file, WDC: 
Enemy Aliens. General Clark also told General Marshall about the meeting and the decision about 
troops, but a search of Army records fails to disclose evidence that the advice of the Chief of 
Staff was sought in the formulation of the War Department plan for Japanese evacuation. 

69 Stimson Diary, entry of 18 Feb 42; Memo, PMG for CofS, 20 Feb 42, OCS 21227-113; 
Ltr, Mr. Biddle to the author, 31 Aug 56; Grodzins, Japanese Evacuation, pp. 266-67; tenBrock 
et al.j Prejudice, War and the Constitution, pp. 111-12. 

™Ltrs, SW to CG WDC, 20 Feb 42, PMG 384.4 WDC; Notes on Conf in ODCofS, 20 Feb 
42, OCS Conf, Binder 32; Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Gen Joyce, 23 Feb 42, WDC-CAD 
311. 3 Tel Convs (DeWitt 42-43). The longer of the Secretary of War's letters is the Outline 
Memorandum published in part in War Department, Final Report, pp. 28-29, an d atchd to Ltr, 
ASW to Gen DeWitt, 20 Feb 42, ibid., p. 27. Executive Order 9066, 19 Feb 42, and the shorter 
SW Ltr of 20 Feb, are also published in Final Report, pp. 25-27. 



west coast delegation that plans for the partial or complete evacuation of 
the Japanese from the Pacific coast were being formulated, 71 In consultation 
with the Department of Justice, War Department officials at this time also 
prepared a draft of legislation that would put teeth into the enforcement 
of the new evacuation program, but did not submit it to Congress until 
9 March. This draft as a bill became Public Law 503 after brief debate; it 
was passed by a voice vote in both houses on 19 March and signed by the 
President on 21 March. Three days later, the Western Defense Command 
issued its first compulsory exclusion order. 72 

As already noted, the plan for evacuation embodied in the War Depart- 
ment's directives of 20 February differed materially from the plan recom- 
mended by General DeWitt in his memorandum of 13 February. The central 
objective of the DeWitt plan was to move all enemy aliens and American- 
born Japanese out of all Category A areas in California, Oregon, and Wash- 
ington that the general had recommended through 12 February. Although 
General DeWitt had repeatedly described the Japanese as the most danger- 
ous element of the west coast population, he also made it clear as late as 17 
February that he was " opposed to any preferential treatment to any alien 
irrespective of race/' and therefore that he wanted German and Italian aliens 
as well as all Japanese evacuated from Category A areas. 73 His plan assumed 
that all enemy aliens would be interned under guard outside the Western 
Defense Command, at least until arrangements could be made for their re- 
settlement. Citizen evacuees would either accept internment voluntarily or 
relocate themselves with such assistance as state and federal agencies might 
offer. Although this group would be permitted to resettle in Category B 
areas within the coastal zone, General DeWitt clearly preferred that they 
move inland. 

The central objective of the War Department plan was to move all 
Japanese out of the California Category A areas first, and they were not 
to be permitted to resettle within Category B areas or within a larger Mili- 
tary Area No. 1 to be established along the coast. 74 There was to be no 
evacuation of Italians without the express permission of the Secretary of 

71 Ltr, SW to Representative Lea, 21 Feb 42, AG 014. 311 (2-16-42). 

72 Grodzins, Japanese Evacuation, pp. 331-39; War Department, Final Report, pp. 29-31, 49. 
On the legal aspects and consequences of the Presidential and Congressional decisions, see Clinton 
Rossiter, The Supreme Court and the Commander in Chief (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 
I95i)> PP. 42-54. 

73 Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Gen Gullion, 17 Feb 42, ASW 014.311 EAWC. 

74 The central objective of the War Department plan is clearly outlined in paragraphs 1-6 of 
the Outline Memorandum of 20 February, paragraphs omitted in the publication of the memo- 
randum in War Department, Final Report, pages 28-29. 



War except on an individual basis. Although the War Department plan 
ostensibly provided that German aliens were to be treated in the same man- 
ner as the Japanese, it qualified this intention by providing for the exemption 
of "bona fide" German refugees. This qualification automatically stayed the 
evacuation of German aliens until General DeWitt could discover who 
among them were genuine refugees. The War Department plan contem- 
plated voluntary relocation by all types of evacuees to the maximum extent 
possible, with internment as necessary outside the Western Defense Com- 
mand. Another major difference between the two plans was related to Gen- 
eral DeWitt's recommendation of a licensing system for Category A areas; 
the President's Executive order of 19 February did not require the applica- 
tion of the licensing plan, and licensing was not embodied in the War De- 
partment's directives of 20 February. 

There were other lesser differences between the two plans. General De- 
Witt had recommended that before any evacuation all preparations should 
be complete, including the "selection and establishment of internment facil- 
ities in the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Corps Areas." As already noted, the 
War Department at this time was also planning to put all internees east of 
the Ninth Corps Area, but its directives did not contemplate any postpone- 
ment of evacuation until internment facilities were ready. General DeWitt 
had also recommended the initial and separate internment of all enemy alien 
males over 14 years of age, until family units could be established in intern- 
ment camps. The War Department plan had no such provision. As for the 
number of people to be involved, General DeWitt's memorandum contained 
an estimate that 133,000 people would have to be evacuated either volun- 
tarily or by compulsion. A breakdown of this figure (based on his previous 
Category A recommendations) discloses that his plan would have involved 
about 69,000 Japanese (25,000 aliens and 44,000 American citizens), about 
44,000 Italians, and about 20,000 Germans. The War Department planners 
apparently made no estimate of the numbers that their directives would 
involve, but eventually they did involve more than 110,000 Japanese resi- 
dents — citizens and aliens — of the west coast states. 

The Evacuation of the Japanese 

How the Army would handle Japanese evacuation remained uncertain 
for a month or so after General DeWitt received his new instructions. That 
it would have to act, and quickly, was certain by late February. In effect 
President Roosevelt with the unanimous backing of the Pacific coast Con- 



gressional delegation had directed the War Department to evacuate the 
Japanese, and the War Department now detailed its most industrious advo- 
cate of mass evacuation to help General DeWitt execute the mandate. And, 
although there was no threat of an enemy invasion of the west coast that 
might have stirred disloyalty among some of its Japanese residents, a con- 
dition had developed that made some solution of the Japanese problem 
mandatory. 75 

This condition had been forecast in a careful survey of Pacific coast 
public opinion made during the week of 7-13 February (and analyzed too 
late to influence the course of events), which indicated a state of affairs 
needing "prompt and careful attention," because of the very widely held 
belief along the coast that the Japanese population was disloyal and a men- 
ace to the national security. The report of this survey concluded that "racial 
or national antagonism seems to account in large part for the unfavorable 
attitude toward the Japanese* ' and that the factor of economic competition 
was relatively minor. It also indicated a much more pronounced ami- Japanese 
sentiment in southern California than elsewhere along the coast; outside of 
southern California, less than one-half of those interviewed favored the in- 
ternment of Japanese aliens, and only 14 percent the internment of Japanese 
citizens. 76 

By late February a stream of pleas for action was flowing into the War 
and Justice Departments from California. On 22 February, for example, the 
Commandant, Eleventh Naval District, sent the following dispatch to 

Situation of Japanese in Southern California very critical. Many are forced to move 
with no provision as to subsequent housing or means of livelihood. Many families 
already destitute. All localities object to movement of evacuees into their area. Recom- 
mend that the Departments concerned make immediate plans for the evacuation and 
reestablishment of aliens removed from areas designated by military authorities. 77 

On the succeeding two days the shelling of the Santa Barbara oil installations 

75 On 20 February, the date of the War Department's instructions to General DeWitt, General 
Marshall concurred unreservedly in a British Chiefs of Staff estimate that, "so long as the United 
States maintain a battle fleet in the Pacific, large-scale seaborne expeditions against the western 
seaboard of North America and the employment of capital ships in this area are considered im- 
practicable." (Ltr, Field Marshall Sir John Dill to Gen Marshall, 20 Feb 42 and Memo, Brig Gen 
Dwight D. Eisenhower to Sir John Dill, 20 Feb 42 both in OCS 21347-7.) In a general estimate 
of the situation a month later, on 19 March 1942, G-2 held that the maximum foreseeable threat 
to the Pacific coast was that from carrier-borne air raids against aircraft factories and naval bases. 
(MIS WD Estimate 2, 19 Mar 42, OPD Exec 10, item 29) 

76 Confidential Rpt of OFF, 9 Mar 42, recorded in Tel Conv, Col Bendetsen with Mr. Carring- 
ton Gill, 9 Mar 42, WDC-CAD 31 1.3 Tel Convs (Bendetsen, Feb-Mar 42). 

77 Quoted in Ltr, SN to Atty Gen, 22 Feb 42, ASW 014.311 EAWC. 



and the "Battle of Los Angeles" added a strong fillip to the local temper of 
opinion. 78 Even after General DeWitt's public announcement of evacuation 
plans at the beginning of March, the San Francisco representative of the Office 
of Government Reports held there was a "serious possibility of mob violence 
and vigilante committees if the Army does not work fast enough/' 79 

On 23 February Colonel Bendetsen arrived in San Francisco to serve as 
a liaison officer between General DeWitt and Assistant Secretary of War 
McCloy and to help in the execution of the War Department directives. With 
his assistance, General DeWitt drafted and obtained War Department ap- 
proval of his first public proclamation of the new program and of an ex- 
planatory press release, both of which were issued on 2 March. The procla- 
mation established two military areas, a Military Area No. 1, which en- 
compassed the western halves of the three Pacific states and southern Arizona 
and a Military Area No. 2, which covered the eastern halves of the Pacific 
states and northern Arizona. The press release forecast the exclusion of all 
persons of Japanese ancestry from Military Area No. 1, and the subsequent 
exclusion of German and Italian aliens at least from the prohibited zones 
within Area No. i. 80 

Apparently, in late February and early March both the War Department 
and General DeWitt hoped that the mere announcement of prohibited and 
restricted zones would induce a voluntary migration out of these zones, as 
had been the case in the California prohibited zones previously announced 
by the Department of Justice. General DeWitt estimated that 15,000 persons 
(of whom many must have been Japanese citizens) had moved out of these 
zones by midnight, 24 February. Most of them had moved into adjacent 
restricted zones in urban areas. 81 In his press release of 2 March, General 
DeWitt urged the Japanese to move voluntarily into the interior from Mili- 
tary Area No. 1 and stated that those who did so would "in all probability 
not again be disturbed." But only about 2,000 Japanese residents actually 
moved out of Area No. 1 before it was announced that voluntary migration 
would soon cease. 82 Although large numbers of Japanese appear to have been 
willing before 1 March to migrate voluntarily into the interior, most of them 

78 Stimson Diary, entry of 26 Feb 42. See above, Ipp. 87-88] 

79 Telg, W. L. Wheeler to Phillip C. Hamblet, Exec Officer, Office of Govt Rpts, 5 Mar 42, 
ASW 014.3 1 1 EAWC. 

s0 Public Proclamation i, and accompanying press release, 2 Mar 42, AG 014. 311 (1-13-41), 
sec. 10; Memo, GHQ, unsigned and undated, summarizing Gen DeWitt's new plan of action, 
GHQ file, WDC: Enemy Aliens. 

81 Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Gen Clark, 26 Feb 42, WDC-CAD 311. 3 Tel Convs (DeWitt, 

82 War Department, Final Report, p. 107. 



could not do so thereafter for two reasons: first, almost nothing had been 
done to help evacuees solve the many personal problems inevitable in a quick 
removal; and second, there was a very open and rapidly spreading hostility 
among governments and populations of interior areas to the free settlement 
of Japanese in their midst. 83 

That the first of these reasons for the failure of voluntary migration was 
the fault of the federal government as a whole seems evident from Secretary 
Stimson s record of a Cabinet discussion on 27 February concerning Japanese 

The President brought this up first of all and showed that thus far he has given 
very little attention to the principal task of the transportation and resettlement of the 
evacuees. I outlined what De Witt's plan was and his proclamation so far as I could 
without having the paper there. Biddle supported us loyally, saying that he had the 
proclamation already in his hands. I enumerated the five classes in the order which 
are being affected and tried to make clear that the process was necessarily gradual, 
DeWitt being limited by the size of the task and the limitations of his own force. 
The President seized upon the idea that the work should be taken off the shoulders of 
the Army so far as possible after the evacuees had been selected and removed from 
places where they were dangerous. There was general confusion around the table 
arising from the fact that nobody had realized how big it was, nobody wanted to take 
care of the evacuees, and the general weight and complication of the project. Biddle 
suggested that a single head should be chosen to handle the resettlement instead of 
the pulling and hauling of all the different agencies, and the President seemed to 
accept this; the single person to be of course a civilian and not the Army. . . . 84 

The person chosen for this assignment was Mr. Milton S. Eisenhower of 
the Department of Agriculture. Mr. Eisenhower worked informally on the 
evacuation problem from the end of February until 18 March, when Presi- 
dent Roosevelt named him director of the newly created War Relocation 
Authority. Before its establishment, General DeWitt had acquired a civil 
affairs organization of his own to handle evacuation problems. The directives 
of 20 February in effect put the Western Defense Command's evacuation 
operations under the direct supervision of the Secretary of War, and, as 
noted, Colonel Bendetsen had been chosen as co-ordinator of matters be- 
tween Washington and San Francisco. 85 During a visit of Mr. McCloy to 

83 War Department, Final Report, pp. 41-43; H, Doc. 191 1, 77th Cong., 2d sess., 19 Mar 42, 
pp. 27-30; Memo, SW for President Roosevelt, 15 Apr 42, ASW 014. 311 West Coast-WDC, 
Apr-May 42; Ltr and Incl, Dir WRA to ASW, 8 Jun 42; Ltr, Dir WRA to ASW, 11 Mar 43. 
Last two in ASW 014.31 1 WDC Gen. 

84 SW's Notes after Cabinet Mtg, 27 Feb 42, WDCSA 334 Mtgs and Confs. The DeWitt plan 
referred to in this quotation was the plan proposed to Washington in drafts of Public Proclama- 
tion 1 and the accompanying press release. 

85 tenBrock et al., Prejudice, War and the Constitution, pp. 1 1 8-2 2 ; Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt 
with Gen Clark, 26 Feb 42, WDC-CAD 3 n. 3 Tel Convs (DeWitt, 42-43); G-4 Memo for 
Red, 1 Mar 42, G-4 file 32860. The last two items reflect the War Department's own confusion 



the west coast, General DeWitt, on 10 March, established a Civil Affairs 
Division in his general staff, and, on the following day, a Wartime Civil 
Control Administration to act as his operations agency for carrying out the 
evacuation program. At Mr. McCloy's urging, and with General Marshall's 
approval, Colonel Bendetsen was formally transferred from the War De- 
partment staff and made chief of both agencies. 86 These agencies and the 
War Relocation Authority provided the administrative means for handling 
a controlled rather than voluntary evacuation. 

By early March the Army had selected two sites — one in the Owens 
Valley of California and the other along the Colorado River in Arizona — 
for relocating as many as 20,000 to 30,000 Japanese who could not 
or would not locate anywhere else. 87 When, by mid-March, most of the 
interior states west of the Mississippi River had made it known officially that 
they would not permit free settlement of citizen or alien Japanese within 
their borders, it became obvious that if the Japanese were to be evacuated 
en masse they would have to be put in government-operated camps under 
armed guard. On 21 March (the same day that President Roosevelt signed 
the enforcement act) Colonel Bendetsen recommended the termination of 
voluntary migration, and four days later General DeWitt and Mr. Eisen- 
hower agreed that it would have to end. In consequence, General DeWitt 
stopped voluntary migration on 29 March and prepared to carry out a pro- 
gram of enforced evacuation, initially to Army-operated assembly centers. 
The large-scale movement of Japanese under Army supervision actually 
began on a voluntary basis from the Los Angeles area on 21 March; after 
the end of March all evacuations (beginning with Bainbridge Island) were 
compulsory. 88 Until a meeting with the governors and other officials of the 
intermountain states at Salt Lake City on 7 April, the War Relocation Au- 
thority continued to hope that it could arrange the free settlement of a sub- 
stantial number of the evacuated Japanese in the interior. But the intransi- 

about the arrangements for supervision from Washington, which in part was due to the imminent 
transfer of responsibilities under the impending general reorganization of Army headquarters. 
After the reorganization of 9 March the Washington military staff agencies almost disappear from 
the picture, except for the planning and direction of construction by the Corps of Engineers with 
staff supervision by the Services of Supply. 

86 War Department, Final Report, p. 41; Memo, ASGS for CofS, n Mar 42, OCS Conf, 
Binder 34; Ltr, SW to Prof. William E. Hocking, 16 Mar 42, SW file, Aliens. Coincidental ly 
with his new assignments, Colonel Bendetsen was promoted to the rank of full colonel. 

87 Ltr, SW to Secy Interior, 13 Mar 42, and related papers, ASW 014. 311 EAWC; Memo, 
Gen Gullion for Maj Gen Brehon B. Somervell, 26 Mar 42, PMG 014.31 1 Gen P/W. 

88 The Army had nothing directly to do with the first compulsory evacuation from Terminal 
Island, executed by the Navy in late February 1942. See Hist of WDC, I, ch. 4, 8-9. 



Japanese Evacuees Arrive at the Colorado River Relocation Center, 
Poston, Ariz. 

gent attitudes exhibited at that meeting persuaded all concerned that the 
Japanese, whether aliens or citizens, would have to be kept indefinitely in 
large government-operated camps, called relocation centers, which were 
built by the Army Engineers in the spring and summer of 194a. 89 

89 War Department, Final Report, pp. 43ft ; Ltr, Dir WRA to ASW, 9 Apr 42; Memo, SW 
for President Roosevelt, 15 Apr 42. Last two in ASW 014.3 n West Coast-WDC, Apr-May 42. 
Ltr, Dir WRA to ASW, n Mar 43> ASW 014.3 " WDC Gen; War Relocation Authority, WRA, 
pp. 26-30. 

The term "relocation" was used first (and was still so used when the War Relocation Authority 
was established) to mean voluntary resettlement by the Japanese; after voluntary migration failed, 
it was used to describe the permanent camps to which the Japanese were sent from the Army's 
assembly centers. In the Supreme Court's decision upholding the constitutionality of evacuation, 
in the case of Korematsu v. United States decided on 18 December 1944, the majority opinion, in 
referring to the relocation centers, stated: "We deem it unjustifiable to call them concentration 
camps with all the ugly connotations that term implies." In his dissenting opinion, Justice Owen 
J. Roberts referred to "the so-called Relocation Centers, a euphemism for concentration camps." 
323 United States Reports, pp. 223, 230. 



North of the Pacific states, the Canadian Government carried out an 
evacuation of Japanese residents from British Columbia that closely paral- 
leled that from the west coast of the United States in time and circumstance. 
The agitation against the Japanese appears to have developed more quickly 
in British Columbia than in California, and as a consequence the commander 
of the Canadian Army's Pacific forces recommended on 30 December 1941 
that the Japanese be removed from the coastal area, primarily because he 
thought there was a definite danger of interracial riots and bloodshed. 90 On 
14 January 1942 the Canadian Government announced plans for a partial 
evacuation of British Columbia's 22,000 Japanese, and on 26 February it 
authorized a complete evacuation from a wide area inland from the coast. 
As a result, 21,000 Japanese residents (three-fourths of them Canadian- 
born) were evacuated between February and October to interior camps sim- 
ilar to the relocation centers in the United States. 91 

Further north, in Alaska, the Army had been made responsible for con- 
trolling enemy aliens soon after the Pearl Harbor attack, and it had promptly 
interned those considered dangerous. On 6 March 1942 the Secretary of 
War extended his authority under Executive Order 9066 to the Army com- 
mander in Alaska. By the end of May, he had evacuated not only his alien 
internees but also the whole Japanese population of Alaska — 230, of whom 
more than half were United States citizens. 92 

It was General DeWitt's intention in early May not only to complete 
the evacuation of Japanese from Military Area No. 1, but also to move all 
of the other 16,000 Japanese living within an eight-state area M so there won't 
be any Japanese in the Western Defense Command who are not in resettle- 
ment projects." 93 Thereafter, General DeWitt intended also to carry out an 
evacuation of German and Italian aliens from all prohibited zones within the 
Western Defense Command. There were more than one thousand of these 
zones after mid-March when he extended the scope of the enemy alien pro- 
gram to the four interior states of his command not previously covered by it. 
But his plans for a collective evacuation of German and Italian aliens faced 

90 Col Charles P. Stacey, ''Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War," 
Six Years of War: The Army in Canada, Britain and the Pacific (Ottawa: E. Cioutier, Queen's 
Printer, 1955), p. 169. 

91 Forrest E. La Violette, The Canadian Japanese and World War 11 (Toronto: University of 
Toronto Press, 1948), p. 44ff. 

92 tenBrock et al., Prejudice, War and the Constitution, pp. 134-35; Memo, CG ADC for 
CG WDC, 5 May 42, WDC-CAD 014.3 T Aliens. 

93 Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Adm Greenslade, 9 May 42, WDC-CAD 31 1.3 Tel Convs 
(DeWitt, 42-43). 



strong opposition. In General DeWitt's own San Francisco headquarters, the 
assistant chief of the Civil Affairs Division concluded: 

So far as concerns the mission [of the Western Defense Command] of protecting 
against sabotage and the evacuation of German and Italian aliens, the accomplishment 
of the mission should be started by a different approach. In the case of the Japanese, 
their oriental habits of life, their and our inability to assimilate biologically, and, what 
is more important, our inability to distinguish the subverters and saboteurs from the 
rest of the mass made necessary their class evacuation on a horizontal basis. In the case 
of the Germans and the Italians, such mass evacuation is neither necessary nor desirable. 

He went on to urge instead a policy of individual exclusion for the Germans 
and Italians, rather than mass evacuation. 94 In Washington, as Colonel Bend- 
etsen subsequently explained, "there was much opposition in the War De- 
partment to the evacuation of Italian aliens and considerable opposition, 
as well, to the collective evacuation of German aliens." 95 

The Washington opposition to German and Italian evacuation developed 
in part as a consequence of the Provost Marshal's February proposal to ex- 
tend the military area scheme to the entire continental United States, 96 On 
13 February the War Department had asked eight of the corps area com- 
manders to submit recommendations for areas within which the Army 
should control the residence or presence of civilians to a greater or lesser 
degree. 97 Each of them responded with recommendations, which, if adopted, 
would have required a fairly sizable alien exclusion program throughout the 
nation. For example, the Second Corps Area commander recommended a 
prohibited zone ten miles wide along the seacoast from the Delaware-Mary- 
land state line northward to the eastern tip of Long Island (and including all 
of Suffolk County, N.Y.) from which all enemy alien residents were to be 
evacuated. Within this area he thought that it would probably be necessary 
to regulate the residence and movement of all other civilians by a permit 
and pass system. He also recommended a prohibition against enemy aliens 
approaching or being found within one hundred yards of any waterfront 
installation in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area. 98 Collectively 
the corps area recommendations seemed to reflect an early wartime attitude 

94 Memo, Lt Col William A. Boekel, Asst ACofS CAD, for Col Bendetsen, 4 May 42, WDC- 
CAD 014.31 Aliens. 

95 Ltr, Col Bendetsen to Col Gustaf J. Braun, Special Troops, Fort Ord, Calif., 31 Dec 42, 
WDC-CAD Final Rpt. 

96 See p. V-28 above. 

97 Ltr, TAG to CG's Corps Areas (Except Ninth), 13 Feb 42, AG 384 (2-4-42). 

98 Ltr, Maj Gen Irving J. Phillipson, CG Second Corps Area, to CG SOS, 18 Apr 42, PMG 
384.4 Gen. 



toward aliens expressed immediately after the war by an officer of the 

Provost Marshal General's office in these words: 

In connection with subversive warfare, during the last war, I would like to make 
this observation. In the fall of 1941 and the winter of 1942, we expected that sub- 
versive elements would be found mainly in the alien population. To our amazement 
by 1943 we discovered such was not the case at all. Most aliens were scared to death. 
So most of our disloyal individuals were old-line families in this country. That was 
amazing to us, and we had to face the facts and recognize it." 

By early March the War Department had come to appreciate that any 
general evacuation of German and Italian aliens from the west coast (even 
with broad exemptions) would be bound to produce repercussions through- 
out the nation. 100 When Attorney General Biddle heard about conferences 
on alien restrictions being held in New York City, he sent a vigorous protest 
to President Roosevelt, in which he contended that any German or Italian 
evacuation on the east coast would have the gravest consequences to the 
nation's economic structure and war morale since it would be bound to pro- 
duce confusion and disaffection among persons of those nationalities through- 
out the country. The President was in thorough agreement with the serious- 
ness of this prospect, and Mr. Stimson hastened to assure him that "no such 
mass evacuation of aliens on the East Coast as is suggested by Mr. Biddies 
memorandum ... is either under way or contemplated/' although he admitted 
that limited evacuations from particularly critical areas were being studied. 
As a consequence, General Drum was informed that there must be no evacu- 
ation of aliens within the Eastern Defense Command except with the knowl- 
edge and approval of the War and Justice Departments. 101 With Presidential 
approval the War Department on 22 April did extend the military area system 
authorized by Executive Order 9066 to all of the continental defense com- 
mands, but only after it had been explained to the President that this exten- 
sion was necessary to enforce dim-out and air defense regulations, and so 
forth, and not for the purpose of controlling enemy aliens. "The control of 
alien enemies," the President informed Mr. Stimson, "seems to me to be pri- 
marily a civilian matter except of course in the case of the Japanese mass 
evacuation on the Pacific Coast." 102 

99 Hearings before WD Civilian Def Bd, 5 Dec 46, Report of War Department Civil Defense 
Board, an. 1, p. 81. 

100 Memo, Alfred Jaretzki, Jr., Special Asst to ASW, for Col Ralph H. Tate, 4 Jun 42, ASW 
014.3 1 1 Gen. This memorandum presents a good detailed resume of the German-Italian evacua- 
tion question as it developed between February and May 1942. 

101 Memo, Atty Gen for President 9 Apr 42, Memo ; President for SW, 14 Apr 42 ; Memo, SW 
for President 15 Apr 42. All in ASW 014.31 1 West Coast-WDC, Apr-May 42. Stimson Diary, 
entry of 15 Apr 42. Memo, OPD for TAG, 24 Apr 42, OPD 014. 311 (3-i~42)/7. 

102 Memo, President for SW, 5 May 42, ASW 014.311 Gen. 


It was this background of related developments that determined the fate 
of General DeWitt's recommendation, submitted through Colonel Bendetsen 
on 10 May 1942, for a limited collective evacuation of German and Italian 
aliens from Military Area No. i. 103 When General DeWitt was told on the 
following day that Mr. Stimson and Mr. McCloy were not inclined to agree 
with his recommendation, he insisted that the removal of German and 
Italian aliens as recommended by him was an essential war measure; and 
he insisted, too, that, if the War Department refused to adopt his recom- 
mendation, then he must be given definite instructions to the contrary that 
would exempt him from all responsibility for the consequences. 104 Before 
General DeWitt's recommendation could be discussed with the President, 
the Congressional committee that had been studying the west coast evacu- 
ation of the Japanese issued its second report, which, among other observa- 
tions, labeled any mass evacuation of German and Italian aliens "out of the 
question if we intend to win this war." 105 On 15 May the President approved 
an alternative to General DeWitt's recommendation upon which the War 
Department secretaries had already agreed. Instead of a collective evacuation 
of German and Italian aliens from the west coast or from anywhere else in 
the United States, the War Department would authorize the defense com- 
manders to issue individual exclusion orders against both aliens and citizens 
under the authority of Executive Order 9066. Instructions to this effect, in- 
cluding a caution enjoining strict secrecy, went to General DeWitt on 22 
May and, although they did not contain the waiver of responsibility he had 
requested, apparently they gave him a broad enough grant of authority to 
satisfy his concern over the problem of German and Italian aliens. 106 

103 Memo, Col Bendetsen for ASW, 10 May 42, ASW 014. 311 WDC Gen. Colonel Bendetsen 
had returned to Washington to present General DeWitt's recommendation in person, and he pre- 
pared the memorandum as a formal recommendation of General DeWitt rather than as a personal 
expression of his own opinion. 

104 Tel Conv, Gen DeWitt with Col Bendetsen, 11 May 42, WDC-CAD 311. 3 Tel Convs 
(DeWitt, 42-43) ; Memo, Col Bendetsen for ASW, 12 May 42, ASW 014.311 WDC Gen. 

105 H. Doc. 2124, 77th Cong., 13 May 42, p. 31. 

106 Memo, ASW for SW, 15 May 42; Memo, Col Bendetsen for ASW, 15 May 42. Both in 
ASW 014.311 Gen. Stimson Diary, entry of 15 May 42; SW's Notes after Cabinet Mtg, 15 May 
42, WDCSA 334 Mtgs and Confs; Ltr, TAG to CG WDC, 22 May 42, AG 014.311 (1-13-4O, 
sec. 10; Memo Jaretzki for Col Tate, 4 Jun 42, ASW 014.3 11 Gen. 

The rejection of General DeWitt's May recommendation concerning the removal of German 
and Italian aliens, which he explicitly justified on grounds of military necessity and at a time when 
the Pacific outlook was considerably grimmer than it had been in February (see | Chapter IVj 
above), certainly weakens the theory, advanced in the War Department, Final Report and else- 
where after 1942, that the War Department acted on evacuation in accordance with recommenda- 
tions of the commanding general that in turn were based on the general's estimate of the military 
necessity of the situation. There is no more than a trace of this theory in War Department records 
that antedate the preparation of the Final Report by the Western Defense Command in early 1943. 



As for General DeWitt's intention of interning all of the other Japanese 
residents of the Western Defense Command, the War Department approved 
the evacuation of those in the eastern half of California only and left un- 
disturbed those in eastern Oregon and Washington, in northern Arizona, 
and in the other states of the Western Defense Command — except, of course, 
as General DeWitt applied to them his new authority to exclude suspected 
individuals from sensitive areas. 107 The final mass evacuation measure never- 
theless affected about 10,000 persons and was carried out by direct move- 
ments from places of residence to relocation centers. 108 

The Western Defense Command completed the evacuation of more than 
100,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from Military Area No. 1 on 7 June, 
and the removals from Military Area No. 2 in California were virtually 
complete by early August. The Army kept control of the evacuees until 3 
November 1942 when, with the last movement from an assembly center to 
a relocation center, the War Relocation Authority took over general respon- 
sibility for the care and disposition of relocated Japanese. 109 

What were the reasons that impelled the Army to carry out the mass 
evacuation of Japanese residents from the west coast beginning in March 
1942? The general answer to this question is that the President and Congress 
had approved mass evacuation and the Secretary of War and his principal 
civilian assistant in this matter themselves thought it necessary to carry it out, 
Mr. Stimson on 16 March (and before the evacuation had begun) referred 
to the prospect as a "tragedy" that seemed "to be a military necessity" be- 
cause very large numbers of the Japanese were "located in close proximity 
to installations of vital importance to the war effort." 110 A week later Mr. 
McCloy reported, after his west coast visit, that there had been no cases of 
sabotage traceable to the Japanese population, but that "there was much 
evidence of espionage." 111 

The most damaging tangible evidence against the Japanese was that 
produced by the intensive searches of their premises by the FBI from early 
February onward. By May it had seized 2,592 guns of various kinds, 199,000 

107 Rad, WD to CG WDC, 28 May 42, AG 370.05 (11-6-41), sec. 2. 

10& More than half of these were Japanese who had moved voluntarily into the interior of 
California from Military Area No. 1, the majority of whom moved on the two days between the 
issuance of the "freeze order" of 27 March and its effective date of 29 March. 

109 War Department, Final Report, pts. IV and VI; War Relocation Authority, WRA, pp. ix- 
x, 23 ; tenBrock et aL, Prejudice, War and the Constitution, pp. 126-34. 

110 Ltr, SW to Prof Hocking, 16 Mar 42, SW file, Aliens. 

111 Notes on War Council, 23 Mar 42, SW Conf, binder 2. No proven instances of espionage 
after Pearl Harbor among the Japanese population have ever been disclosed. 



rounds of ammunitions, 1,652 sticks of dynamite, 1,458 radio receivers, 
2,914 cameras, 37 motion picture cameras, and numerous other articles that 
the alien Japanese had been ordered to turn in at the beginning of January. 
Nonetheless, after assessing this evidence, Department of Justice officials 

We have not, however, uncovered through these searches any dangerous persons 
that we could not otherwise know about. We have not found among all the sticks of 
dynamite and gun powder any evidence that any of it was to be used in bombs. We 
have not found a single machine gun nor have we found any gun in any circumstances 
indicating that it was to be used in a manner helpful to our enemies. We have not found 
a camera which we have reason to believe was for use in espionage. 112 

There were better if less tangible grounds for suspecting that some of 
the Japanese people — citizens as well as aliens — would become disloyal in 
the event of a Japanese invasion. The Navy report of early February 1942 
previously cited concluded that a very small minority (less than 3 percent) 
of alien and citizen Japanese were so fanatically loyal to Japan that they 
could be expected to act as saboteurs or enemy agents, and a somewhat 
larger minority might be passively disloyal, if given the opportunity. 113 On 
similar grounds the War Relocation Authority concluded that tl a selective 
evacuation of people of Japanese descent from the west coast military area 
was justified and administratively feasible in the spring of 1942," although 
it concluded also that a mass evacuation such as was actually carried out was 
never justified. 114 But no military estimate after December 1941 forecast 
even the possibility of an invasion of the west coast by the Japanese in 
strength, and all disloyalty among the Japanese remained passive until after 
their removal to relocation centers. 

Although little support for the argument that military necessity required 
a mass evacuation of the Japanese Can be found in contemporary evidence, 
it might be contended that the co-operation of the white population of the 
Pacific states in the national defense effort could not have been otherwise 
assured. By March 1942 a large segment of that population along the coast 
was determined to be rid of the Japanese, at least for the duration of the war. 
Prewar antipathies combined with wartime fears into a formidable pressure 
for removal. Writing in June, Mr. McCloy explained that the nature of the 

112 Draft of Memo, early May 42, Atty Gen for President Roosevelt, as quoted in Grodzins, 
Japanese Evacuation, pp. 134-36. A major portion of the first two items listed above was picked 
up in a raid on a sporting goods shop. 

113 Rpt of Comdr Ringle ; no date, copy in ASW 104.311 EAWC 

114 War Relocation Authority WRA, p. 182. 



attack on Pearl Harbor and the apparent exposure of the west coast to enemy 
action left its "American populations ... in a condition of great excitement 
and apprehension/' which f< tended greatly to inflame our people against all 
persons of Japanese ancestry/' 115 Shortly after the evacuation had been com- 
pleted, the Assistant Secretary commented to General Drum: 

As you know, the Japanese were removed from the West Coast, first, because of 
the proximity of the West Coast to the Japanese theater of operations and, second, 
because of the very large number of Japanese concentrated in that area, and thirdly, 
because of the fear that direct action might be taken against the Japanese as a result 
of the rather antagonistic attitude of the local population. 116 

Yet in Hawaii, with a considerably greater concentration of Japanese much 
closer to the arena of operations, no similar removal occurred despite very 
similar evacuation planning after Oahu's baptism of fire in December 1941. 117 

115 Ltr, ASW to Mrs. Edwin H. Kinney, 27 Jun 42, ASW 014.311 WDC Gen. 

116 Ltr, ASW toCGEDQ 16 Nov 42, ASW 014.31 1 WDC Gen. 

117 See below, |ch. Vliq 


The Reinforcement of Oahu 

The Hawaiian island of Oahu held a position of the first importance in 
the military structure of the United States before and during World War II. 
During the prewar years Oahu and the Panama Canal Zone were the two great 
outposts of continental defense, and, after Japan plunged the United States 
into a Pacific war, Oahu became an essential springboard for the offensive that 
was finally to crush the Japanese Empire. 

What gave Oahu its military importance was the great naval base of Pearl 
Harbor. The Army had primary responsibility for protecting Pearl Harbor 
and, to fulfill this responsibility, before the war it maintained on Oahu its 
largest and, in many respects, its best equipped overseas garrison. The Army's 
objective was to make Oahu impregnable, and in April 1941 the War De- 
partment confidently described the island as the strongest fortress in the 
world. 1 Seven months later this confidence was rudely shaken by Japan's 
amazingly successful attack on a major portion of the Pacific Fleet berthed 
and moored in Pearl Harbor, and on the Army's surrounding air installations 
and aircraft on the ground. The background of this Japanese venture has been 
one of the most intensively studied and related episodes in modern history, 
and this volume can add only some detail about what the Army did before 
and during the attack. 2 

The Hawaiian Department Before 1941 
The Army had established its first post on Oahu more than forty years 

1 Aide-memoire on the Defense of Hawaii, 24 Apr 41, WPD 3672-32. 

2 Pearl Harbor Attack, and Report of the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl 
Harbor Attack, 79th Cong., 2d sess., Doc. 244 (Washington, 1946) (hereafter cited as Pearl Har- 
bor Report) contain the greatest bulk of the evidence gathered. Watson, Prewar Plans and Prepara- 
tions, chs. XIV-XV, relates the Army background. Samual Eliot Morison, "History of the United 
States Naval Operations in World War II," vol. Ill, The Rising Sun in the Pacific, 19 31- April 
1942 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1950), is the best brief account of Navy and Japanese 
operations. William L. Langer and S. Everett Gleason, The Undeclared War, 1940-1941 (New- 
York; Harper and Brothers, 1953), describes the diplomatic background in detail. See also the 
bibliographic survey by Louis Morton, "Pearl Harbor in Perspective," in United States Naval 
Institute Proceedings, vol. 81 (April 1955), pp. 461-68. 



earlier, immediately after the United States annexed the Hawaiian Islands in 
August 1898. Increasing Japanese- American friction in the following decade 
led to a decision by the Army and Navy in 1908 to make Pearl Harbor the 
principal American naval bastion in the Pacific. 3 To protect Pearl Harbor, 
the Army greatly expanded its Oahu garrison and in 191 3 established the 
Hawaiian Department as an independent command under direct War Depart- 
ment control. In the two decades after World War I the Army kept about 
11 percent of its manpower on Oahu, built up formidable coastal defenses 
on its south shore to protect Pearl and Honolulu harbors, and installed air 
defenses to guard vital installations against this new element of warfare that 
developed so rapidly between world wars. 

The Army's mission in Hawaii was denned in 1920 as the defense of the 
Pearl Harbor naval base against "damage from naval or aerial bombardment 
or by enemy sympathizers" and against "attack by enemy expeditionary force 
or forces, supported or unsupported by an enemy fleet or fleets." 4 The mis- 
sion remained essentially unchanged until 1941, and until that year the Army 
did almost nothing to guard the other major islands of the Hawaiian chain 
against attack. In February 1941, General Marshall broadened the stated mis- 
sion informally by emphasizing the responsibility of the Army for protecting 
the fleet as well as the Pearl Harbor naval installations. 5 In practice, as 
events were to prove, the impact of this new instruction was blunted by the 
common assumption in Washington and Hawaii that no serious attack on 
Oahu was at all likely if the bulk of the fleet was present in Hawaiian waters. 

The eight major islands of the Hawaiian chain are situated about 2,400 
statute miles southwest of the California coast, and about 3,900 miles from 
the principal Japanese island of Honshu. The main island group extends 
nearly 400 miles from Hawaii — the large island which has nearly two-thirds 
of the total land area — northwestward to Kauai and Niihau. \Map \V) 
Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai are the principal islands, and the latter three 
are roughly of the same size. All are mountainous islands of volcanic origin, 
possessed of a subtropical climate that is pleasant and healthful. Oahu, the 
third largest island with an area of 604 square miles, owes its pre-eminence 
to two harbors along its southern shore: that of Honolulu, and the shallow 
lagoon seven miles to the west that after intensive development became the 
Navy's largest overseas base. Oahu, with less than one-tenth of the archipe- 

8 Louis Morton, Strategy and Command: The First Two Years (Washington, 1962) (hereafter 
cited as Morton, Strategy and Command) , ch. I, p. 23. 

4 Ltr, TAG to CG Hawaiian Dept, 3 Jan 20, copy in OPD Resume, Pearl Harbor Attack. 

5 Pers Ltr, Gen Marshall to Maj Gen Walter C. Short, 7 Feb 41, WPD 4449-1. 


a S Fort Shafter 


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lago's area, had 60 percent of its population in 1940, and nearly 70 percent 
by the end of the Pacific war. The population of all the islands is something 
of a racial kaleidoscope. The largest single element in 1940 was of Japanese 
descent — roughly, 37 percent of the total of 423,000. On both Hawaii and 
Kauai those of Japanese descent outnumbered those of Caucasian descent by 
three to one, and on Oahu the two groups were about equal in number. 
Although more than three-fourths of the people of Japanese descent were 
American-born citizens, their preponderance in the total population had a 
profound influence on military thinking about what might happen in a war 
with Japan. Most Army and Navy officers assumed that in the absence of 
close military control there would be widespread attempts at sabotage, and 
therefore they planned for a wartime establishment under martial law. The 
existing Hawaiian government was that of a fully incorporated territory, 
with an elected legislature and a nonvoting delegate to Congress, and exec- 
utive and judicial officers appointed by the President. It had jurisdiction over 
the main archipelago, the chain of minuscule reefs extending a thousand 
miles from Kauai to Midway, and two distant coral islands to the southwest. 

Oahu is a diamond-shaped island having two parallel mountain ranges, 
which have precipitous slopes to the seaward and a broad plateau in between 
that spreads out as a coastal plain in the south. Before World War II Oahu's 
Army and Navy installations were mostly on this plateau and plain. There 
they were so closely intermingled and integrated with the civilian population 
and general economic activity of the island that military secrecy on any large 
scale was impossible. The Army had its headquarters at Fort Shafter in the 
western outskirts of Honolulu, but the main body of its troops was stationed 
at Schofield Barracks in the center of the plateau about ten miles inland 
from Pearl Harbor. The principal Army unit was the Hawaiian Division, 
activated in 192 1; and its station at Schofield covered the Pearl Harbor base 
against an enemy landing on the northwest coast. It was only along this coast 
that the Army believed a hostile landing in force even remotely feasible. The 
principal Army air installations were Hickam Field, the base for bombard- 
ment aviation, adjacent to Pearl Harbor on the Honolulu side, and Wheeler 
Field, the pursuit and fighter base located in the interior next to Schofield 

On the day war began in Europe in September 1939, the Army com- 
mander in Hawaii, Maj. Gen. Charles D. Herron, after "taking stock*' of 
his local outlook, informally commented to General Marshall that he would 
not "want to be given the job of cracking the nut" which Oahu presented to 
any would-be invader, because of its "encircling reefs and two coasts pro- 



tected by very difficult small mountain ranges and the south shore very 
heavily armed [and therefore with the] prospect of fighting an entrenched 
division all the way across after a landing on the north shore." He admitted 
that Oahu was difficult to defend against "air attacks coming in from the 
sea." But he expressed the belief that airplane carriers could "not live in 
these waters as long as we have left any bombers at all;" and anyway he 
felt "that naval air forces, like the cavalry of old, always has in its mind, the 
get-away." 6 General Herron's optimism about Oahu's relative invulner- 
ability to invasion appears to have been well founded, but two years later 
the Japanese certainly belied his observation about carriers. 

The possibility of war with Japan had led the Army and Navy in 1924 
to draft a new joint Orange plan to govern the conduct of such a war. Since 
the Limitations of Armament Treaty of 1921 barred the building of any 
new military defenses to the westward of Hawaii, the Pearl Harbor base and 
its Army defenses assumed an ever-increasing importance in Pacific war 
plans during the twenties and thirties. By 1938 the Navy had expended about 
$75,000,000 on this base, and the Army more than twice that amount on 
military installations to protect it. Navy plans for a Japanese war visualized 
the launching of a transpacific offensive from Oahu through Japanese-held 
islands toward the Philippines; but by 1935 the Army was convinced that 
such an offensive was impracticable, at least at the beginning of a war with 
Japan, and therefore that American strategy in the Pacific should be essen- 
tially defensive and should concentrate on holding the Alaska-Hawaii- 
Panama line. The last Orange plan revision of 1938 represented an un- 
satisfactory compromise of the Army and Navy positions. In any event, be- 
cause of the increasing threat of war with Japan, the Army from 1935 until 
the autumn of 1939 accorded the Hawaiian Department top priority in the 
supply of equipment, and it increased the strength of the garrison by more 
than 50 percent, from 14,821 to 21,289 between the summers of 1935 and 
1938. 7 

In September 1935 General Herron's predecessor in Hawaii, Maj. Gen. 
Hugh A. Drum, had expressed himself as far from satisfied with either the 
peacetime or planned wartime allotments of men and material to his depart- 
ment, and he also wanted to broaden the Army's mission. General Drum pro- 
posed that the mission include defense of all the main Hawaiian islands and 
participation in the air defense of the eastern Pacific area. He asked for 

6 Pers Ltr, Gen Herron to Gen Marshall, i Sep 30, CofS file, Herron, Gen C. D. 

7 Rpt of Col Edward M. Markham to CofS, 10 Jan 38, sub: Rpt on Def Features of the 
Hawaiian Islands, WPD 3878-9; Annual Reports of the Secretary of War, 1945-40. 



twenty-six of the new "flying fortress" heavy bombers then under develop- 
ment, and he proposed to construct operating fields for them on Hawaii and 
Kauai islands. This measure in turn would require some deployment of 
Army ground forces to the outer islands to protect the new airfields. The 
War Department rejected these proposals on the ground that the defense of 
ocean areas was the Navy's business and that the dissipation of Hawaii's 
forces would weaken the defense of Pearl Harbor, which must remain the 
overriding mission of the Army in Hawaii. Army plans of 1935 called for 
a war garrison on Oahu of more than 100,000 officers and men, and the 
Army planners in Washington rejected General Drum's proposal that 23,000 
of these troops be put on the outer islands in wartime. 8 The Joint Board 
confirmed these actions and held that the mission of United States forces in 
Hawaii was only "to hold Oahu as a main outlying naval base" and the 
Army's specific mission was "to hold Oahu against attacks by sea, land, and 
air forces, and against hostile sympathizers." 9 

After a lengthy maritime strike in the winter of 1936-37 General Drum 
resubmitted his recommendations with the argument that the Army must 
extend its protection to the outer islands if it wished to assure an adequate 
supply of food for Oahu in time of war. Oahu produced only 15 percent of 
its own requirements in food, but the other islands could readily make up 
the deficiency in an emergency if communication was maintained with them. 
Again the War Department objected. In both 1935 and 1937, its basic argu- 
ment against broadening the Army mission in Hawaii was the following: 
"If the Fleet is in the Pacific and free to act, Oahu will be, with the comple- 
tion of the existing defense project, secure against any attacks that may be 
launched against it. It is only in the case that the Fleet is not present or free 
to act that the security of the Hawaiian Islands can be seriously threatened." 10 
That the presence of the fleet in or near Hawaiian waters provided a more 
or less automatic guarantee against any serious attack on Oahu continued to 
be a widely held conviction both in Washington and Hawaii until the 
Japanese demonstration to the contrary in December 1941. 

A fresh survey of Oahu's defenses, conducted in late 1937 by Col. 
Edward M. Markham on oral instruction of the President and Secretary of 
War, produced conclusions similar to those of General Drum. 11 Colonel 

8 WPD Study, 9 Dec 35, sub: Defense Mission — Hawaiian Dept, and other papers in WPD 
3878; Memo, Coi Sherman Miles for ACofS WPD, 28 Dec 35, WPD 3672-7. 

9 Memo, JB to SW, 19 May 36, WPD 3878-1. 

10 Memo, ACofS WPD for Coi Miles, WPD ; 29 Jul 37, and other papers in WPD 3878-3. 

11 Colonel Markham had just completed a four-year tour of duty as Chief of Engineers, with 
rank of major general ; and he retired with that rank in February 1938. 



Markham stressed the need for making the Pearl Harbor base as nearly im- 
pregnable as possible. He pointed out that despite their recent strengthening, 
the Army's installations for defending it were considerably less than im- 
pregnable, principally because of "the astounding advance in aircraft design 
and range over the past twenty years." He emphasized as "a corollary of the 
first order ' the importance of preventing an enemy from seizing and using 
Oahu and its Pearl Harbor base "as a springboard of attack against our west 
coast territory and shipping, and the Panama Canal." Colonel Markham 
agreed with General Drum that substantial peacetime Regular Army garri- 
sons should be installed on Hawaii and Kauai to operate and support new 
air bases and to assure Oahu of food in an emergency. Finally, he included 
among the basic assumptions of his report one of the more prophetic fore- 
casts of the prewar years: 

War with Japan will be precipitated without notice. One of the most obvious and 
vital lessons of history is that Japan will pick her own time for conflict. The very form 
of its government lends itself to such action in that its military and naval forces can, 
under the pretext of an emergency, initiate and prosecute military and naval operations 
independently of civil control. ... If and when hostilities develop between the United 
States and Japan, there can be little doubt that the Hawaiian Islands will be the initial 
scene of action, and that Japan will apply her available man-power and resources in 
powerful and determined attacks against these islands. 12 

The slight impact of the Drum and Markham recommendations can be 
credited in good measure to the rising threat of Hitler s Germany and the 
increasing prospect of war in Europe, which from 1938 onward absorbed 
the major attention of the Roosevelt administration and of the War Depart- 
ment in particular. Although the United States Government considered that 
the Hawaiian Islands lay within the Western Hemisphere, new plans for 
hemisphere defense developed after 1938 emphasized the strengthening of 
the American military position in Atlantic and Latin American areas. The 
War Department's stand also reflected the fact that Oahu, in comparison 
with other overseas bases or with the continental United States itself, was 
already well provided with defenses, and especially with the means for re- 
sisting invasion. It had a full infantry division, a heavy concentration of coast 
defense guns, and from 1938 onward the more or less constant protection 
of the United States Fleet. But, until 1941, it had no modern Army combat 

One factor that altered the military security of Oahu in the years immedi- 
ately preceding the Pearl Harbor attack was the increasing capabilities of 

12 Rpt of Col Markham to CofS, 10 Jan 38. 



carrier-based air power. With the nearest Japanese airfield 2,100 miles away, 
military authorities correctly calculated that Oahu was beyond the range 
of land-based air power; but it could be reached by carriers, of which Japan 
had six in operation by August 1939, and two more under construction. In 
January 1938 Colonel Markham had pointed out how easy it would be for 
carrier-based planes to approach Pearl Harbor from the northeast. Screened 
by the heavy cloud cap almost continuously present over the main Koolau 
Range, they could cross Oahu and deliver a surprise attack on the naval base 
and its surrounding installations almost without warning. Since local ground 
defenses and unwarned pursuit planes could not hope to cope with such an 
attack, Colonel Markham assumed that the Army in order to fulfill its mis- 
sion would have to conduct long-range aerial reconnaissance, and he recom- 
mended an Army air strength of 350 planes, to match an estimated 379 
planes that Japan might possibly bring to bear in an initial all-out attack. 13 

The first War Department plans of 1939 for expanding the Air Corps 
proposed to increase the authorized number of Army combat planes in Hawaii 
from 124 to 256, and to include in the new allotment 140 bombers and 100 
pursuit ships. In its report of June 1939 the Army Air Board explained the 
large number of bombers by pointing out the need for Army reconnaissance 
as well as striking forces to operate within a 1,000-mile radius of Oahu. Since 
the Air Board report like all similar prewar studies recognized that a carrier 
attack once launched would inevitably inflict some damage, it pointed out 
that the only sure means of preventing successful carrier attacks was to locate 
the carriers outside a 600- to 700-mile radius (the range of their attack 
planes plus one night's sailing) and bomb them before they could launch 
their planes. With strength enough to do this, Army aircraft in Hawaii could 
also interdict any attempt by the enemy to establish airfields on any of the 
other major islands. 14 

Under the production circumstances of 1939 any plans for strengthening 
Army air power in Hawaii were bound to take a long time to carry into 
effect, but the initial plans were further limited at the end of 1939 by general 
assumptions of the War Plans Division in Washington that Japan would 
not risk more than two of its carriers in a surprise attack and that long-range 
aerial reconnaissance was properly a Navy and not an Army mission. In the 
light of these assumptions the Army planners recalculated Hawaiian needs 

18 Rpt of Col Markham to CofS, 10 Jan 38. On 7 Dec 1941 the six Japanese carriers engaged 
used 355 planes against Oahu. See below JF. VII-28I 

14 Memo, ACofS WPD for Chief, Budget and Planning Br, WDGS, 6 May 39, WPD 3807-31 ; 
Tabs Y and Y 2 to Army Air Bd Rpt, 26 Jun 39, WPD 3748-17- 



for Army aircraft and allotted the Department 122 pursuit planes and 68 
medium bombers. The bombers were to be used for reconnaissance only if 
the Navy was absent or if it asked for reinforcement. 15 These two assump- 
tions, that the Japanese would never employ more than two carriers in a 
surprise attack in the eastern Pacific and that Army bombers should not be 
used for long-range offshore reconnaissance, remained constants in Washing- 
ton and Hawaiian defense thinking and planning for the next two years, and 
contributed substantially to Japanese success in December 1 941. 16 

Under the revised 54-group air program of June 1940, Hawaii was 
allotted some additional pursuit and light bomber strength for close-in 
defense purposes and was scheduled to receive 68 heavy bombers — B-i7*s 
— instead of mediums. But the premises behind the new allotments were 
still a maximum 2-carrier threat and performance by the Navy of all long- 
range reconnaissance. 17 During the same month General Marshall suggested 
sending 5 or 10 B-iy's to Oahu immediately, but his G-3 (an Air officer) 
objected on the ground that so few would have no restraining influence on 
the Japanese and would inevitably be destroyed by hostile pursuit before they 
could help in fighting off an attack — comments which throw light on the 
utility of the 12 heavy bombers (only 6 of which were in commission) on 
Oahu on the morning of 7 December 1941. 18 What the Hawaiian Air Force 
actually had at the beginning of 1941 was a heterogeneous collection of 115 
combat planes, all of them obsolete or obsolescent. They were useful almost 
exclusively for training and not for fighting. 19 

A second factor affecting the Hawaiian defense picture was the decision 
to base the United States Fleet at Pearl Harbor. With Anglo-French naval 
power seemingly in control of the Atlantic, the United States continued 
after August 1939 to keep the bulk of its naval strength in the eastern Pacific. 
Until 1940 the principal bases for the United States Fleet were on the con- 
tinental west coast, with Pearl Harbor serving as an advance base and con- 
centration point during maneuvers. But after annual maneuvers in April 

1940 the fleet, under command of Admiral James O. Richardson, was 

15 Tab C to Memo, WPD for CofS, 21 Dec 39, WPD 3807-41. See also above, [chTTIl] 
pp. 55-56- 

16 The tenacity of the first of these assumptions is reflected in the underestimates of Japanese 
carrier strength by both Washington and Hawaiian authorities immediately after the December 

1 94 1 attack. They knew Oahu must have been hit by planes from more than two carriers, but 
they guessed that no more than three or four had been used. 

17 Memo, Lt Col Jonathan W. Anderson for Brig Gen George V. Strong, WPD, 24 Jun 40, 
WPD 3807-41. 

18 Notes on Conf in OCofS, 17 Jun 40, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 15, pp. 1929—31. 

19 Table showing Army airplane strength in Hawaii, January 1941, in OPD Exec 4, item 5. 


ordered on 7 May to stay at Pearl Harbor, as a warning and deterrent to 
Japan. Almost immediately thereafter Hitler's smashing land victory in 
western Europe threatened to cripple or destroy Anglo-French naval power 
in the Atlantic. To retrieve the situation it appeared by mid- June to Army 
and Navy leaders in Washington that the United States would have to 
transfer the bulk of its naval strength to Atlantic waters. 20 

It was this prospect that led General Marshall on 17 June to alert the 
Panama and Hawaiian Departments to the danger of a transpacific raid, 
following the departure of the United States Fleet. The Chief of Staff and 
his advisers reasoned that, as collaborators with Nazi Germany, Japan and 
the Soviet Union might launch such a raid in an effort either to keep the 
United States Fleet in the Pacific or to block the Panama Canal after its 
passage into the Caribbean. They feared a raid against Hawaii only if the 
fleet had departed, and when President Roosevelt decided in early July to 
keep the fleet at Pearl Harbor their apprehensions about Oahu faded. 21 

The alert message to Oahu was plain spoken: 

Immediately alert complete defensive organization to deal with possible trans- 
Pacific raid to greatest extent possible without creating public hysteria or provoking 
undue curiosity of newspapers and alien agents. Suggest maneuver basis. Maintain 
alert until further notice. Instructions for secret communication direct with Chief of 
Staff will be furnished shortly. Acknowledge. 22 

General Herron reacted with vigor. He ordered a 24-hour manning of all 
observation posts and antiaircraft batteries, and for the first time the anti- 
aircraft gun crews received live ammunition and instructions to fire on any 
foreign planes sighted over restricted areas. Airplanes at Hickam and 
Wheeler Fields were dispersed, and on 21 June Army planes took over the 
task of inshore dawn patrols from the Navy. Although not similarly alerted, 
Admiral Richardson's forces co-operated wholeheartedly, instituting both 
inshore patrols and a limited amount of longer range aerial reconnaissance — 
the limiting factor being the small number of Navy planes available for the 
purpose. On inquiry, the Chief of Naval Operations confirmed that the 
Army's alert had been issued after consultation with the Navy and requested 
Admiral Richardson to continue his co-operation. On 19 June the War 

20 See Conn and Fairchild, Framework of Hemisphere Defense, ch. II; Morison, Rising Sun 
in the Pacific, p. 43; Memo, WPD for CofS, 17 Jun 40, WPD 4250-3. 

21 Notes on Confs in OCofS, 17 Jun 40, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 15, pp. 1929-31; Memo, 
Gen Strong for Gen Marshall, 15 Dec 45, ibid., pp. 1908-10; Memo for Red, Gen Strong, 11 Dec 

45, OPD Pearl Harbor file, Misc Corresp; Draft Ltr, CofS to CG Hawaiian Dept 3 Jun 40, 

WPD 4322. 

22 Memo, WPD for TAG, 17 Jun 40, WPD 4322. 



Department authorized a gradual modification of the alert, and a month 
later its relaxation at General Herron s discretion, except for continued pre- 
cautions against sabotage and local air patrols on a training basis. The Navy 
maintained some distant patrolling by Oahu-based sea planes for most of 
the time until 30 December 1940, when Admiral Richardson discontinued 
such reconnaissance after being advised by the Chief of Naval Operations 
that only naval operating areas needed reconnoitering. 23 In the meantime, 
the alert measures had fostered closer co-operation between Army and Navy 
forces, and in General Herron's opinion had had a wholly salutary effect on 
the morale of Army troops. In a personal letter of 6 September he told 
General Marshall that "the position of this place on the Army priority lists 
is still all right," and assured him that "as things now are, I feel that you 
need not have this place on your mind at all." 24 But on the preceding day he 
had officially asked for a good many more antiaircraft troops to man guns 
already on hand. 

The request of Hawaii for more antiaircraft troops reached Washington 
in the same month that the United States Government openly shifted its 
course from neutrality to nonbelligerency and determination to support Great 
Britain in the Atlantic war. To be effective the new course required peace in 
the Pacific area, outside of China. But President Roosevelt and his advisers 
believed that the United States must also do what it could, short of war, to 
show Japan that its open alignment of 27 September with Germany and Italy 
was not going to stop American aid to Britain. As one gesture the President 
directed that Hawaii be reinforced by a National Guard infantry division, 
and Secretary Stimson had some difficulty in persuading the President that 
under existing circumstances such a move would really weaken and not 
strengthen the military security of Oahu. Partly to satisfy the President's 
wishes for some sort of reinforcement, as well as General Herron' s plea for 
more men, General Marshall decided to send a National Guard antiaircraft 
regiment from California to Hawaii as soon as possible. The 251st Anti- 
aircraft Artillery Regiment, which moved to Oahu during the winter, was 
the first National Guard unit to leave the continental United States for over- 
seas duty in World War II. 25 

23 Various exchanges between WD and Hawaiian Dept, 17 Jun-16 Jul 40, WPD 4322; Memo, 
Gen Herron for Gen Marshall, 18 Dec 41, OPD Resume, Pearl Harbor Attack; Testimony of 
Adm Richardson, 11 and 20 Nov 45, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. i, pp. 274, 312; Testimony of 
Gen Herron, 8 Jan 44, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 27, p. 125. 

24 Pers Ltr, Gen Herron to Gen Marshall, 6 Sep 40, in CofS file, Herron, Gen C D. 

25 Stimson Diary, entries of 4 and 8 Oct 40 ; Memo, OPD for CofS, 7 Oct 40, and CofS for 
DCofS Gen Bryden, 9 Oct 40. Last two in OPD Resume, Pearl Harbor Attack. Notes on Conf in 
OCofS, 8 Oct 40, OCS Conf, binder 6. 



With strength to man existing ground defense equipment in the offing, 
General Herron appears to have been reasonably well satisfied with the 
Army's posture of defense on Oahu in late 1940. During November he sent 
to Washington a paper entitled Draft Surmises on Insular Operations, his 
opening surmise being that fleets could not operate more than 2,000 miles from 
a major base, although a small raiding force could range much farther. The 
implication for Hawaii was that a small raiding force was all that need be 
anticipated. The general recognized the need to detect a carrier raid as far 
off as possible and acknowledged that a shore-based aerial patrol was a 
necessary adjunct to insular defense. But long-range reconnaissance was the 
Navy's business, as Admiral Richardson had informally acknowledged in 
August. 26 And the discontinuance of Navy long-range patrolling by shore- 
based planes at the end of the year appears to have passed unnoticed by the 

The absence of an effective shore-based aerial patrol seems to have con- 
cerned General Herron much less than the prospective congestion of the air 
and of airfields when the Army and Navy obtained the full quota of planes 
that had been allotted to Oahu. The general wondered whether it might not 
be better to keep most of the heavy planes allotted to Hawaii on the west 
coast, on the assumption that the time had come when the Hawaiian Islands 
could be largely defended by bombers based on the mainland. The War 
Department throught differently, considering the 68 Army heavy bombers 
allotted the minimum needed on the spot; and it also took note of and 
advised General Herron about the Navy's new plan to station 180 long- 
range patrol planes in the islands, including 108 that were to remain per- 
manently to patrol coastal waters and sea lanes. This last increment, when 
it arrived, could presumably provide all of the long-range reconnaissance 
needed. 27 According to his later recollections, what worried General Herron 
most at the end of 1940 was the inadequacy of his antiaircraft defenses, not 
the present or prospective means of locating and bombing carriers. He told 
the Army Pearl Harbor Board in 1944 that he and his air commander had 
known "that an air force could come in and do some damage." Continuing, 
he said: 

We hoped to be able to follow them out and destroy the carriers. But I do not think 
we had any idea that we could turn back an aerial attack entirely, for this reason: that 

26 Gen Herron, Draft Surmises on Insular Operations, 12 Nov 40, WPD 3878-8; Pers Ltr, 
Gen Herron to Gen Marshall, 13 Aug 40, and Incls, in CofS file, Herron, Gen C D. 

27 Various papers, dated n Dec 40-7 Jan 41, in WPD 3878-9; Testimony of Rear Adm 
Claude C. Bloch, Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District, 30 Dec 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt, 22, 
p. 500. 



the only antiaircraft we had was that which was prepared against high-altitude bomb- 
ing. We did not have the small-caliber stuff which you need to do anything about dive 
bombings. So we felt they could come in; that they would not come in there unless 
they had enough planes to overcome what planes we had. 28 

Defense Preparations During 1941 

From available evidence it appears that as the year 1940 ended the Navy 
was more concerned than the Army about the state of the Army's defenses in 
Hawaii. After Admiral Richardson discovered on a Washington visit during 
October that the President was determined to keep the fleet at Pearl Harbor, 
he arranged with General Herron to inspect the Army's defenses and review 
their adequacy to protect the fleet and naval installations. His findings became 
the basis for a letter from the Secretary of the Navy to the Secretary of War 
on 24 January 1941, which stressed that Japan might initiate hostilities by 
a surprise attack on the fleet and on the base installations at Pearl Harbor, 
and envisaged an air attack by bombers and torpedo planes as more probable 
than threats of sabotage, submarine attack, the sowing of mines, and bom- 
bardment by naval gun fire. The Navy's estimate did not even mention 
invasion as a danger, though that was the preoccupation of a large portion 
of the Army defenders. The Navy urged "that the Army assign the highest 
priority to the increase of pursuit aircraft and antiaircraft artillery, and the 
establishment of an air warning net in Hawaii." 29 

The Navy's letter arrived on the heels of a forecast by President Roosevelt 
that Japan might even then be preparing to strike at the United States, and 
his decision that if that happened the United States must "stand on the 
defensive in the Pacific with the fleet based on Hawaii" and continue aid to 
Britain. 30 The War Plans Division recommended that a few B-i7*s be sent 
to Oahu at once and that Hawaii (as well as Alaska and Panama) be put on 
a war basis as soon as possible. 31 Even so, the War Department had drafted 
a routine response to the Navy's letter, stating in effect that nothing more 
could be sent to Hawaii for some time to come. General Marshall stopped 
this draft, and arranged to have eighty-one pursuit planes, fifty of them of 
the P-40B type, shipped by carriers to Oahu as soon as possible. 32 

28 Testimony of Gen Herron, 8 Jan 44, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 27, p. 128. 

29 Ltr, SN to SW, 24 Jan 41, WPD 3583-1. 

30 Memo, CofS for WPD, 17 Jan 41, WPD 4175-18. 

31 Memo, WPD for CofS, 21 Jan 41, WPD 4175-18. 

32 Notes on Conf in OCofS, 6 Feb 41, OCS Conf, binder 10; Memo, Gen Marshall for ACofS 
WPD, 6 Feb 41 ; Ltr, SW to SN, 7 Feb 41. Last two in WPD 3583-1 ; Memo for Red of Maj Gen 
Thomas T. Handy, 1 Aug 44, in OPD Resume, Pearl Harbor Attack. 



The Army answered the Navy's letter on 7 February 1941, the same day 
that General Herron relinquished command of the Hawaiian Department to 
Lt. Gen. Walter C Short. A week earlier the Navy had reshuffled its forces, 
redesignating the fleet at Pearl Harbor as the Pacific Fleet and giving it a new 
commander, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel. The Army command went to 
General Short because of his reputation as an eff ective training man, and he 
threw himself into the work of his new post with great energy. General 
Marshall pointed out to him in a personal letter of 7 February that "the 
fullest protection for the Fleet is the rather than a major consideration" for 
the Army in Hawaii, and observed further: 

My impression of the Hawaiian problem has been that if no serious harm is done us 
during the first six hours of known hostilities, thereafter the existing defenses would 
discourage an enemy against the hazard of an attack. The risk of sabotage and the risk 
involved in a surprise raid by Air and by submarine constitute the real perils of the 
situation. Frankly, I do not see any landing threat in the Hawaiian Islands so long as 
we have air superiority. 

He also stressed the need for the closest co-operation with the Navy and 
with the new Navy commander, Admiral Kimmel. 33 

For various reasons, concern in Washington over the possible imminence 
of war with Japan subsided after February 1941, and worries over recognized 
deficiencies in the Army's defense equipment faded once more into the back- 

By April, it looked as if the United States was on the brink of open 
participation in the Atlantic war, and plans were afoot to reinforce the 
Atlantic Fleet by withdrawing a substantial part of the Pacific Fleet from 
Hawaiian waters. In the eyes of Washington, Oahu looked more secure than 
ever, now that it was protected by some modern Army pursuit craft and was 
about to be reinforced further by fifty-five more P-40's and thirty-five B-17's. 
General Marshall assured Secretary Stimson that he thought Oahu was 
impregnable whether any fleet was there or not, because "with our heavy 
bombers and our fine pursuit planes, the land force could put up such a 
defense that the Japs wouldn't dare attack Hawaii, particularly such a long 
distance from home." 3 * 

To assist Mr. Stimson in convincing the President it was safe to shift 

American naval power to the Atlantic, General Marshall had the War Plans 

Division prepare an estimate, the draft of which read: 

The Island of Oahu, due to its fortification, its garrison, and its physical character- 
istics, is believed to be the strongest fortress in the world. 

33 Pers Ltr, Gen Marshall to Gen Short, 7 Feb 41, WPD 4449-1. 

34 Stimson Diary, entry of 23 Apr 41. 



It has been carefully fortified against naval attack and its antiaircraft defense is 
relatively complete. 

Its total garrison is at present approximately 31,000 men, and is in process of 
augmentation by 6,000 men. 

Including the movement of aviation now in process, it is defended by 35 of our 
longest range bombers, 35 medium range bombers, 105 of our high speed pursuit 
ships, 65 fighters, and 13 light bombers. 

The Hawaiian Islands are subject to (a) sabotage, (b) carrier raids, (c) an attack 
in force.. 

In point of sequence, sabotage is first to be expected and may, within a very limited 
time, cause great damage. On this account, and in order to assure strong control, it 
would be highly desirable to set up a military control of the islands prior to the likeli- 
hood of our involvement in the Far East. 

Carrier raids by the Japanese involve jeopardizing naval units that will not be 
lightly undertaken. To meet these carrier raids our bombardment, protected by pursuit 
aviation, the latter operating from advanced fields on the Islands of Hawaii and Kauai, 
can cover a radius from Oahu of approximately 400 miles and beyond suitable points 
for the establishment of hostile land-based aviation. 

An attack in force against Oahu necessitates an air superiority that can only be had 
by the establishment of land-based air within striking distance of Oahu. This can only 
be accomplished successfully within the Hawaiian group and with the defense indi- 
cated above it is not believed that such establishment can be accomplished. 

Hawaii is capable of reinforcement by heavy bombers from the mainland by air. 35 

A note (by the President's military aide) on a revised version handed to Mr. 
Roosevelt summed up the War Department's optimistic view: "Modern 
planes have completely changed situation as to defensibility/' 36 The principal 
effect of these arguments seems to have been to plant a new legacy of con- 
fidence among Washington leaders in the immunity of Hawaii from serious 
attack, since the President decided then and thereafter that the bulk of the 
Pacific Fleet must remain in the western Pacific as a deterrent to Japanese 
aggression. 37 

When General Short surveyed his new command in February 1941, he 
recognized a good many more flaws in its armor than the War Department 
in Washington did two months later. Although he appears never to have 
been greatly concerned during 1941 about the number of Army aircraft on 
hand and ready for action, he did take an intense interest in other matters 
related to air defense. Prompted by General Marshall's personal letter of 7 
February and an official War Department communication of the same date, 
General Short turned his attention at once to improving co-operation 

35 WPD Draft of Aide-memoire on Oahu, n.d. but probably 23 Apr 41, WPD 3672-32. 

36 Notation on Aide-memoire, Def of Hawaii, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 15, p. 1635. The orig- 
inal of the revised version, dated 24 Apr 1941, is in WPD 3672-32. 

37 See Conn and Fairchild, Framework of Hemisphere Defense, chs. V and VI. 



between Army and Navy forces and in particular to clarifying the respective 
responsibilities of their air forces in defensive operations. 38 

At the beginning of 1941 Army and Navy forces in Hawaii, as every- 
where else in the field, operated more or less independently of each other, 
with co-ordination as circumstances required under the principle of mutual 
co-operation. On paper responsibility for local naval defense measures 
except aboard ship rested with the commandant of the Fourteenth Naval 
District, Rear Admiral Claude C. Bloch, and it was with Admiral Bloch's 
organization that the Army command proceeded to negotiate on a number 
of matters pertaining to air defense. Actually the Fourteenth Naval District 
had no defense forces of its own during 1941, and the contribution that the 
Navy could make to local defense depended upon what could be spared from 
the fleet and its Marine Corps attachments. It therefore depended also on the 
maintenance of a close personal relationship and understandings between 
General Short and Admiral Kimmel, the fleet commander. 

Their predecessors, General Herron and Admiral Richardson, had suc- 
ceeded in overcoming some of the characteristic resistance to effective Army- 
Navy co-operation in the field. An aftermath of the spring maneuvers and 
subsequent alert of 1940 had been an informal joint agreement on air opera- 
tions under which the Navy assumed exclusive responsibility for distant 
reconnaissance, both services retained the right to conduct close-in recon- 
naissance for their own protection, and each might engage independently 
in air attacks against a hostile fleet. 39 The new formal agreement signed 
by General Short and Admiral Bloch on 28 March 1941 left responsibility 
for distant reconnaissance with the Navy, but if Army planes helped out they 
were to operate under Navy command; if Navy planes helped in the defense 
of Oahu's land area, they were to operate under Army command; and any 
Army bombardment planes engaging in offensive operations at sea were to 
be under Navy command *° In joint exercises during 1941 the riew agreement 
worked well enough; but the prejudice in both services against unity of 
command offered fair assurance that except in such exercises the agreement 
would not be invoked unless a compelling and clearly recognized emergency 
was at hand. 

In another joint paper signed three days later, the Army and Navy air 
commanders in Hawaii acknowledged how difficult it might be to foresee 

Ltr, Gen Short to Gen Marshall, 19 Feb 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 15, pp. 1602-04. 

Ltrs, Gen Herron to Gen Marshall, 13 Aug 40-28 Jan 41, in CofS file, Herron, Gen C D. 

An. 7 to Jt Coastal Frontier Def Plan, 1939, signed 28 Mar 41, in AG 381 (1-24-41) (1). 



such an emergency. Their estimate of the outlook emphasi2ed the possibility 
of a sudden Japanese attack on Oahu prior to a formal declaration of war, 
and they noted the likelihood under existing circumstances that a dawn air 
attack launched from carriers might hit at the fleet and naval installations 
at Pearl Harbor with such complete surprise that defending pursuit could 
do little to soften the blow. They recognized that distant air reconnaissance 
was the best defense against surprise. Pointing out that it would be impos- 
sible with the equipment at hand to maintain such reconnaissance except 
for a short period, they emphasized the necessity of obtaining intelligence 
that a raid on Oahu was imminent before undertaking a systematic long- 
range reconnaissance of its sea approaches. 41 

In addition to pushing toward agreement on other matters of mutual 
concern to the two services, General Short made a point of cultivating the 
personal friendship of Admirals Kimmel and Bloch. In forwarding the 
items described above to General Marshall, he stated that he had found both 
admirals most co-operative and that they all felt that steps had already been 
taken to make it possible for Army and Navy forces to act together and with 
the unity of command that the situation might require. Somewhat later 
Admiral Kimmel reported to Washington in the same vein, but noted the 
serious need for a great many more Army heavy bombardment planes. 42 

Instead of receiving 35 B-17's as planned in April, only 21 made an 
historic mass, flight from California to Oahu in mid-May. The critical out- 
look of affairs in the Atlantic area induced General Marshall to withhold 
the other 14. 43 Early in July the War Department was wondering whether 
more than one 35-plane group of heavies was really needed in Hawaii before 
the outbreak of a war, and even the Hawaiian Air Force commander opti- 
mistically estimated in August that one such group would be strong enough 
to finish off six enemy carriers. The real need, he felt, was for long-range 
reconnaissance; and, ignoring the Navy's responsibility for this function 
and plans fpr undertaking it eventually, he asked for a total of 180 heavy 
Army bombers so that the Army could do it. His request, warmly endorsed 
by General Short, reached Washington in the midst of new War Department 
planning that allotted from 1 36 to 204 heavy Army bombers to the Hawaiian 

41 Jt Estimate Covering Jt Army and Navy Air Action in the Event of Sudden Hostile Action 
Against Oahu or Fleet Units in the Hawaiian Area, 31 Mar 41, Ind to Pers Ltr, Gen Short to 
Gen Marshall, 14 Apr 41, AG 601.5 (4-14-41). 

42 Pers Ltr, Gen Short to Gen Marshall, 14 Apr 41, AG 601.5 (4-14-41) ; Memo, Adm 
Kimmel for Adm Stark, 4 Jun 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 16, pp. 2238-39. 

43 Craven and Cate, Plans and Early Operations, pp. 172-73 ; Memo, Office Chief of Air Corps 
for TAG, 7 May 41, AG 452 (3-3-41) ; Notes on Conf in OSW, 19 May 41, Pearl Harbor 
Attack, pt. 15, p. 163 1. 



Department by mid- 1942, and this planning had to suffice as an answer for 
the time being. These plans also coincided with the new Washington decision 
to reinforce the Philippines, and the net result was that Oahu lost 9 of its 
21 heavies to the Philippines in early September and kept the remaining 12 
only because they could be employed most usefully at Hickam as sources of 
spare parts and in training new combat and ferry crews. 4 * 

Superficially, Oahu's needs for pursuit craft appeared much better met. 
During most of the time between May and December 1941 it had about 150 
Army pursuit and fighter planes, two-thirds of them modern P-^o's. But a 
chronic shortage of spare parts kept many of these planes out of commission, 
and the ones available had to be used intensively for training. The greatest 
qualification was that pursuit planes, however modern, were all but worth- 
less as defense equipment in the absence of an effective warning system, 
and Oahu had none before the attack on Pearl Harbor. 45 

In early December 1941 the Army did have an aircraft warning system 
nearing completion in Hawaii, but it was not yet in operation. This system 
depended for its information on the long-range radar machines developed 
by the Signal Corps in the late 1930*5, the SCR-270 (mobile) and SCR-271 
(fixed). The Signal Corps in Washington drafted the first plan for install- 
ing some of this equipment in Hawaii in November 1939, but before 1941 
not much actually was done to prepare for its installation. 46 As of February 
1941 the War Department expected to deliver radars to Hawaii in June 
and hoped they could be operated as soon as they were delivered. The first 
mobile sets actually reached Hawaii in July, delivery having been delayed 
by about a month because of a temporary diversion of equipment to an 
emergency force being prepared for occupation of the Azores. In September 
five mobile sets began operating at temporary locations around Oahu, and 
a sixth, the Opana station at the northern tip of Oahu, joined the circuit 
on 27 November. Three fixed sets also arrived during November, but their 
mountain-top sites were not ready to receive them 47 

44 Memo, SGS for CG AAF, 3 Jul 41, OCS 17234-25 ; CG Hawaiian Air Force for CG AAF, 
through CG Hawaiian Dept, 20 Aug 41-, with Incls, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 14, pp. 1019-34; 
Memo, Col Bernard Thielen for Brig Gen North, 3 Dec 45, OPD file, Pearl Harbor Misc Corresp; 
Testimony of Maj Gen Frederick L. Martin, 29 Aug 44, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 28, p. 973. 

45 This last point had been fully appreciated by the Chief Signal Officer and the commander 
of the GHQ Air Force back in February, before any of the new planes had been sent out to Hawaii 
(Notes on Confs in OCofS, 19 and 25 Feb 41, OCS Conf, binder 10) ; but the mere presence of 
the planes appears to have had a satisfying effect both in Washington and Hawaii. 

46 Various papers, dated 1939-41, in WPD 3640-5, 6, and 13. See Terrett, The Emergency, 
pp. 299—306, for details. 

47 1st Ind, OCSigO to ASF, 31 Jul 44, on Memo, ASF for CSigO, 27 Jul 44, in OPD Resume, 
Pearl Harbor Attack. 



The radars in operation on Oahu in late 1941 had a dependable range 
of from 75 to 125 miles seaward. An exercise in early November demon- 
strated their ability to detect a group of carrier planes before daylight 80 
miles away, far enough out to alert Army pursuit planes in time for the 
latter to intercept incoming " enemy* ' bombers about 30 miles from Pearl 
Harbor. But this test in no way indicated the readiness of radar to do its 
job a month later. The sets were being operated solely for training; a short- 
age of spare parts and of a dependable power supply made it impracticable 
to operate them for more than three or four hours a day; the organization 
for using their information was a partly manned makeshift operating for 
training only; and defending pursuit, even if they could have been informed, 
would have had to keep warmed up and ready to take off in order to in- 
tercept enemy planes before they reached their targets. 

The radars were not supposed to function except for training purposes 
until the Signal Corps turned them over to an air defense or interceptor 
command, to be operated by the Army pursuit commander through an in- 
formation center which would receive data from the radar stations, warn 
the defending pursuit, control the movement of friendly planes, and control 
the firing of all antiaircraft guns. In March 1941 General Short had agreed 
that Hawaii needed such a command, and he arranged for his pursuit com- 
mander and his Signal Corps officer to visit the continental United States 
in the late fall of 1941 to witness operations and exercises of interceptor 
commands, preparatory to installing the system in Hawaii. They did not 
get back to Oahu until 4 December, much too late to get a local interceptor 
organization and information center into operation before the Japanese 

The Army generally had more confidence in late 1941 in a much older 
weapon, the antiaircraft gun, as a means of air defense. Antiaircraft artil- 
lery had played an important part in the defense planning and preparation of 
the Hawaiian Department since 1921, when it organized the first antiair- 
craft artillery regiment in the United States Army. Twenty years later the 
latest revision of the Hawaiian defense project, approved by the War De- 
partment in September 1941, prescribed an impressive allotment of anti- 
aircraft artillery weapons: 84 mobile and 26 fixed 3-inch guns for high al- 
titude firing, and provision for replacing some of them as soon as possible 
with more modern weapons; 144 of the newer 37-mm. automatic weapons; 
and 516 caliber .50 antiaircraft machine guns for action against low-flying 
aircraft. By then also the department had four antiaircraft regiments, and it 
was scheduled to receive a fifth before the end of the year. Actually three 



of the four regiments present were at little more than half strength, and the 
equipment on hand was considerably less than that allotted, amounting to 
60 mobile and 26 fixed 3-inch guns, only 109 antiaircraft machine guns, and 
only 20 of the 37-mm. automatic weapons. 48 

With the strength available, Army antiaircraft on Oahu had the ability 
when deployed to give some protection against high-flying horizontal bomb- 
ing planes along the south coast (from Diamond Head to west of Pearl 
Harbor) and around Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Field. The 37-mm. 
guns had been in Hawaii for almost ten months before ammunition for 
them arrived on 5 December 1941, and there had been very little for the 
antiaircraft machine guns, so that firing practice for even the small number 
of guns available for defense against dive or torpedo bombers or other low- 
flying planes had been more or less out of the question. About half the 
mobile 3-inch guns were assigned action stations on private property, and 
in practice sessions during the months before the Japanese attack the gun 
crews kept to nearby roads and carefully refrained from trespassing. 49 Ex- 
cept during practice sessions the guns and the regiments that manned them 
were concentrated in three areas some distance from their battle stations, 
and at all times after May 1941 ammunition for the guns remained in the 
Ordnance depot. Only the fixed 3-inch guns, with ammunition boxed but 
close at hand, were ready for near immediate action. The rest depended on 
getting several hours' advance warning of an impending attack. 

When General Short assumed command in February 1941 he immedi- 
ately recognized the need for giving greater protection to Army aircraft on 
the ground by constructing dispersal runways and bunkers at existing air- 
fields, and by building new airfields on Oahu and on other islands to relieve 
the congestion and close concentration of planes at Hickam and Wheeler 
Fields. By May the War Department had given formal approval to the con- 
struction to 253 bunkers, but it failed to provide any funds or to approve 
plans for them before the Japanese attacked in December. During the sum- 
mer General Short by using troop labor managed to construct 85 bunkers at 
Wheeler Field; but under the alert of 27 November planes were ordered 
to be bunched not dispersed, and the bunkers therefore were not put to 
use. 50 

48 Lt Col WiJIafd L. Jones, History of the Organization of United States Antiaircraft Artillery, 
draft MS in OCMH; Memo, WPD for CofS, 2 Dec 41, WPD 1305-24; statistical data in OPD 
file, Pearl Harbor Misc Corresp. 

49 Testimony of Maj Gen Henry T. Burgin before Army Pearl Harbor Bd, 8 Sep 44, Pearl 
Harbor Attack, pt. 28, p. 1370. 

50 Resume on Dispersion and Protection of Aircraft, WPD 4483. 



On Oahu during 1941 the Army completed and opened the new Bellows 
Field on the coast east of Honolulu, and it was being used in the fall by 
pursuit and light bomber planes. General Short wanted to build another 
pursuit field on the plateau about four miles northeast of Schofield Bar- 
racks, but the War Department insisted that it be located on the northern 
tip of Oahu, at Kahuku Point, instead. Because of this argument, and the 
fact that the Kahuku site was being used by the Navy as a bombing range, 
a new major pursuit field on Oahu remained no more than an idea before 
December. 01 A small training field, near Haleiwa in the same area, was un- 
known to the Japanese and almost untouched by them in the Pearl Harbor 
attack. The Army also made arrangements with the Navy for the practice 
use of each other s airfields on Oahu and on other islands of the Hawaiian 
group, and for the extension of runways on Navy fields to accommodate 
Army heavy bombers. 52 

The development of military airfields in the outer islands harked back 
to plans of the 1920's and 1930*5 for the establishment of air bases on 
Hawaii and Kauai. Fields on these and other islands were begun in June 

1940 by the Works Progress Administration in accordance with priorities 
established by the Army. A year later the War Department approved new 
construction that would allow the operation of heavy bombers from two 
fields on Kauai and three on Hawaii and would permit pursuit planes to 
operate from fields on Molokai and Lanai. Completion of these projects 
would make possible the distant dispersion of bombers from Hickam, and 
pursuit ships could be flown to the nearest islands. But no Army aircraft 
had occupied the new fields before 7 December. 53 

The beginnings of military airfield construction on other major islands, 
together with General Short's concern about the possibilities of sabotage or 
other hostile action by residents of Japanese descent, prompted the first gar- 
risoning of the Hawaiian group as a whole by active Army forces. In May 

1 941 General Short detached the 299th Infantry Regiment from the 
Hawaiian Division and sent one battalion to Hawaii, another to Kauai, and 
divided a third between Maui and Molokai . 5i These detachments and other 
Army forces sent to the outer islands were put under the local command of 

51 Ltr, Gen Short to Gen Marshall, AG 660.2 (3-5-41) ; Ltrs, Gen Short to Gen Marshall, 
ir Jun 41, and Gen Marshall to Gen Short, 8 Aug 41, in Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 15, pp. 1624- 
25; extract from Min, JB Mtg, 19 Sep 41, in OPD Resume, Pearl Harbor Attack. 

52 Various papers, dated 10 Jul-25 Jul 41, in WPD 2550-28. 

53 Memo, WPD for TAG, 19 Jun 40, WPD 2550-14, and other papers in this same file. 

54 The 299th was a National Guard regiment organized and recruited in the outer islands, so 
in effect this move represented a return of its component parts to their home stations, after six 
months' duty and training on Oahu. 



military districts (of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai), which in turn reported 
directly to the commander of the Hawaiian Department. Trained combat 
troops on the outer islands numbered about 1,300 at the beginning of 
December 1 941. 55 

About the same time that General Short decided to garrison the outer 
islands he asked the War Department to approve the reorganization of the 
Hawaiian Division by distributing its four infantry regiments between two 
new triangular divisions. The actual reorganization, into the 24th and 25th 
Infantry Divisions, did not become effective until 1 October 1941. The new 
divisions had an authorized strength of about 11,000 officers and men each, 
but their actual strength was considerably less at the outset, and the 24th 
Division had no control over the battalions of the 299th Infantry scattered 
among the outer islands. 56 

In the year preceding the Pearl Harbor attack, the Army's officer and 
enlisted strength in the Hawaiian Department grew from 28,798 to 43,177, 
and Hawaii remained the largest of the overseas garrisons. 57 Nearly half the 
increase represented increments, including a good many men of Japanese 
descent, drawn from the local population through the induction of the Na- 
tional Guard and the operation of the selective service system. 58 Since most 
of the new men received from the mainland also needed more training, the 
Hawaiian Department of necessity became a training establishment on a 
large scale during 1941, resembling in many respects the ground and air 
training commands then so active in the continental United States. 

Until 28 May 1941 the Rainbow plans contemplated an Army wartime 
garrison of 79,000 for Hawaii, substantially less than had been scheduled 
for it in war plans of the mid-1930's. 59 On that date the War Department 
ordered a further reduction of 21,000 and lessened the decrease only slight- 
ly to accommodate General Short's plan for additional units to guard the 
Navy's new air station at Kaneohe Bay on the northeast coast of Oahu. 60 By 
22 September 1941, when Secretary Stimson and General Marshall went 

55 History of Army in Hawaii before 7 Dec 1941, in Bulky Package 2 of supporting documents 
to USAFMIDPAC History in OCMH; Testimony of Gen Short before Roberts Commission, 23 
Dec 41 and 8 Jan 42, in Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 22, p. 68, and pt. 23, p. 991. 

56 Memo, Gen Short for TAG, 25 Apr 41, in Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 18, p. 3096; Hawaiian 
Dept GO 53, 1941, 26 Sep 41; Testimony of Brig Gen Durward S. Wilson before Roberts Com- 
mission, 24 Dec 41, in Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 22, p. 153. 

57 Tabulations of Machine Reds Br, AGO, 30 Nov 45, in OPD file, Pearl Harbor Misc Corresp. 

58 Gwenfread Allen, Hawaii's War Years (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1950), pp. 

59 Incl to Memo, WPD for CofS, 15 May 41, WPD 3493-11. 

60 Rad, TAG to CG Hawaiian Dept, 28 May 41, WPD 4175-18; various papers, dated 
i937-4i» in WPD 3835. 



over the strengths of all overseas garrisons with President Roosevelt, Hawaii 
had its full authorized peacetime strength of about 42,000. They agreed 
that any further reinforcement of the Hawaiian garrison could be deferred 
as long as the fleet remained in the Pacific, since the presence of the fleet 
reduced the threat of major attack. 61 The revised Rainbow 5 plan of Novem- 
ber 1941 called for 17,300 more troops to be sent as war reinforcements as 
soon as possible, and an ultimate war garrison of about 68>ooo. 62 Behind 
all these figures appears a confidence in Washington during 1941 that 
Hawaii by comparison with other overseas outposts was well manned, and 
that in the event of war Hawaii would not be on the front line of conflict 
as forecast by the larger war garrisons planned for it by the Army during 
the i93o's. 

The same confidence can be deduced from war plans drafted and ap- 
proved by the War Department during late 1941. Back in August 1937 
Army and Navy planners had put the Hawaiian Coastal Frontier into Cate- 
gory of Defense D, which indicated an area that might be subject to major 
attack and within which all elements for defense should be approximately 
ready for action or in action, including an active antiaircraft gun defense of 
important areas and long-range aerial reconnaissance as required. Actually 
this provision meant very little either before or after the Pearl Harbor at- 
tack, since even after the attack the Category D description remained un- 
changed until October 1943, and at no time did it reflect with any accuracy 
the current status of defense operations. The War Department's Rainbow 
5 Operations Plan, approved 19 August 1941, confirmed Category of De- 
fense D, and stated the Army's mission to be: "Hold Oahu against attacks 
by land, sea, and air forces, and against hostile sympathizers. Support naval 
forces in the protection of the sea communications of the Associated Powers 
and in the destruction of Axis sea communications by offensive action 
against enemy forces or commerce located within tactical operating radius 
of occupied air bases." 63 The provision for the support of naval forces was 
inapplicable until the Navy put its operating plans based on Rainbow 5 
into effect, an action which it did not take except in areas many thousands 
of miles from Hawaii until after the Japanese attacked. A month later, on 
17 September, the War Department approved the latest revision of the 

61 Memo, CofS for President Roosevelt, 22 Sep 41, with annotations, in Roosevelt Papers, 

62 Study, Comparison of Rainbow 5 and Its Revision #1 of Nov 41, in OPD Pearl Harbor 
file; Tab A to Memo, G-3 for CofS, 19 Nov 41, AG 381 (n-19-41). 

03 WD Operations Plan, Rainbow 5, par. 30, copy in OPD Resume, Pearl Harbor Attack. 



Hawaiian Defense Project, which listed the forms of possible enemy attack 
in the following order of probability: 

(a) Submarine — torpedo and mine. 

(b) Sabotage. 

(c) Disguised merchant ship attack by blocking channels, by mines, or by air or 
surface craft. 

(d) Air raids, carrier based. 

(e) Surface ship raids. 

(f ) Major combined attack in the absence of the U.S. [sic] Fleet. 04 

Thus, sabotage was again confirmed as the principal and immediate con- 
cern of Army defense forces. Finally, in the revision of Rainbow 5 com- 
pleted in November, the Washington planners limited the sea area required 
for the defense of Oahu to a 500-mile radius from land, a limitation which 
if it had been applied would have confined long-range reconnaissance to 
bounds that all previous studies had considered ineffective for detecting the 
approach of carrier forces before they could launch their planes. 65 

Thus, though extensively reinforced, the Army defenses of Oahu were 
not ready by 7 December 1941 to detect the approach of a carrier attack or 
to cope with an air attack as powerful as that launched by the Japanese. 

84 Revision 1940, sec. II, par. 1. d. (1), copy in OPD Resume, Pearl Harbor Attack, 

65 Study, n.d., sub: Comparison of R 5 and Rev of R 5, Nov 41, in OPD Pearl Harbor file. 


The Pearl Harbor Attack 

For the first half of 1941 the military strategy and preparations of the 
United States were aimed toward belligerent participation in the Atlantic 
war and maintenance in the Pacific of a defensive posture based on Alaska, 
Hawaii, and Panama. Then, during July, Pacific strategy and preparations 
began a rapid shift that profoundly affected the outlook and thinking of 
American commanders both in Washington and in Hawaii. Through 
decoded intercepts, Washington knew early in the month that Japan had 
decided upon further aggression to the south. In the light of this knowledge, 
during the last week of July the United States decided to try to defend the 
Philippines in the event of war with Japan, and at the same time it applied 
stringent economic sanctions against Japan which were intended to deter 
the Japanese but which actually had the opposite effect. During August and 
September, the War Department developed an entirely new concept for 
defending the Philippines and checking a Japanese sweep southward. It 
now planned to station large numbers of Army heavy bombers (B-iy's) in 
the Philippines. This plan in turn required the quick preparation of inter- 
mediate supporting bases at Midway and Wake Islands along the direct air 
route from Hawaii to Manila and similar preparations as soon as possible 
along a secondary route to the southwest toward Australia. 1 

Everyone recognized that these plans and preparations of late 1941 for 
projecting American military power toward and into the Far East could not 
become effective before early 1942, but no one either in Washington or in 
Hawaii gave much thought to calculating what should be done in case the 
Japanese chose to strike before then. In particular, the danger of a Japanese 
carrier-based air raid on Oahu, which had been recognized as very real in 
early 1941, all but ceased to be a matter of immediate concern; whereas, 
with the increasing likelihood of war with Japan, the danger of sabotage on 
Oahu loomed ever larger, not only in the thinking of the local Army and 
Navy commanders and their staffs, but also in Washington. As General 

1 See Conn and Fairchild, Framework of Hemisphere Defense, chs. IV-VI; Matloff and Sneil, 
Strategic Planning, 1941-42, ch. IV ; and Morton, Strategy and Command, ch. IV. 



Marshall put it, in testimony soon after the event, "I fully anticipated a 
terrific effort to cripple everything out there by sabotage"; and at the same 
time he acknowledged that to him the carrier attack had been an almost 
totally unexpected blow. 2 

The Approach to War 

The first warning to the Hawaiian Department that Japan had deter- 
mined upon a new course of aggressive action went out from the War De- 
partment on 7 July 1941, though in milder language than the alerts flashed 
to Alaska and Panama four days earlier. 3 Later in the month, and six hours 
before the new economic sanctions against Japan became effective, General 
Short received his second warning, this time with advice that, while no im- 
mediate military retaliation by Japan was anticipated, the Hawaiian com- 
mander should take "appropriate precautionary measures." 4 The general did 
so by ordering a full alert of his forces, in marked contrast to the lesser ac- 
tion taken by him four months later. His chief of staff explained to the local 
press thac Army forces were "taking to the field for a ten-day maneuver 
period." After several days the general called off the "maneuvers," but he 
left Army guards on 24-hour watch at military and public utility installa- 
tions, highway bridges, and along the Honolulu waterfront. 5 

The first warning to Hawaii that Japan might soon resort to military ac- 
tion against the United States was sent by the Navy to its fleet commanders, 
including Admiral Kimmel, on 16 October. Because the Army staff in Wash- 
ington disagreed wich the Navy's alarm, the War Department sent a sup- 
plementary message to the Far East commander, General Douglas Mac- 
Arthur, and to General Short, advising them that although "tension between 
United States and Japan remains strained ... no abrupt change in Japanese 
foreign policy appears imminent." In short, the War Department did not 
think that Japan might be on the verge of attacking the United States. 6 Un- 
der the circumstances General Short saw no need to do any more than what 
he was already doing. Vital installations had remained under guard against 

2 Testimony before Roberts Commission, 19 Jan 42, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt 23, p. 1081. 
3 Rad, TAG to CG Hawaiian Dept, 7 Jul 41, WPD 45441 see chsfTx] and |XIII| below, 
4 Rad, TAG to CG Hawaiian Dept, 25 Jul 41, WPD 4544~3- 

5 Testimony of Maj Gen Philip Hayes before Army Pearl Harbor Bd, 9 Aug 44, Pearl Harbor 
Attack, pt. 27, pp. 138-39; Testimony of Gen Short before Roberts Commission, 23 Dec 41, 
Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 22, p. 32, and before Army Pearl Harbor Bd, ir Aug 44, Pearl Harbor 
Attack, pt. 27, pp. 218-19, 230-31. 

G Memo, WPD for CofS, 18 Oct 41, WPD 4 544~5- 



sabotage since July, and he "simply cautioned people who were responsible 
for that guarding to be unusually careful." 7 No further official word about 
the prospects of war with Japan reached General Short directly from the 
War Department until 27 November, and it came then only after action by 
the Japanese and American Governments that made an early outbreak of 
war all but certain. Of course the general by reading the local newspapers 
could and presumably did learn unofficially a good deal about the tense 
negotiations with Japanese envoys in Washington, since the local press 
reported these negotiations very fully; and by 27 November this reporting 
included an accurate prediction of an impending rupture and of Japanese 
warlike moves in the offing. 

On the eve of conflict the Honolulu press also reflected the opinion 
widely held in Washington that Japan was too weak to pose a really serious 
threat to the United States. As of 21 November the Secretary of the In- 
terior, for one, was urging President Roosevelt to launch an immediate 
attack on Japan's naval forces in their home waters, in order to destroy them 
and thus release American naval strength for full duty in the Atlantic at an 
early date. 8 In September a War Department G-2 estimate of the Japanese 
Navy had paid it much higher respect; but of Japanese aircraft performance 
in China it rather condescendingly noted: * 'Plane design has lagged, but 
lack of formidable opposition has left them undisputed air superiority." 9 A 
similar assumption lay behind General Arnold's remark on 26 November 
that the Japanese had no seaborne aircraft that could catch one of the new 
Army B-24 heavy bombers, which with light loads could fly 290 miles per 
hour at 15,000 feet. 10 He was wrong, as the Japanese Zeros that appeared 
over Pearl Harbor two weeks later were soon to prove. About 28 November 
G-2 estimated that Japan was then "completely extended militarily and 
economically * and thus was "momentarily unable to concentrate anywhere 
a military striking force sufficient to ensure victory"; and G-2 followed this 
estimate with a prediction on 5 December 1941 that for the next four 
months Germany would "remain the only power capable of launching large 
scale strategic offensives." 11 

7 Testimony of Gen Short before Army Pearl Harbor Bd, n Aug 44, Pearl Harbor Attack, 
pt. 27, p. 219. 

8 The Secret Diary of Harold L. hkes, vol. III, The Lowering Clouds, 1939-1941 (New York, 
Simon and Schuster, 1954), pp. 649-50. 

9 Memo, G-2 for WPD, 17 Sep 41, WTD 4344-4- 

10 Notes on Conf in OCofS, 26 Nov 41, WDGSA 381 Philippines (12-4-41). 

11 Draft of G-2 Brief Periodic Estimate of the Situation, forwarded to GHQ for comment on 
or about 28 Nov 41, in GHQ 381, binder 2; Memo, G-2 for CofS, 5 Dec 41, in Pearl Harbor 
Attack, pt. 14, pp. 1373-74. 



If not reflecting informed opinion, the Honolulu Advertiser appears at 
least to have been in tune with it in stating in a lead editorial of 3 December 

. . . Unless there is an immediate and complete reversal of Tokyo policy, the die is 
cast. Japan and America will travel down the road to war. 

Such a course should be sad for Japan to contemplate. She is the most vulnerable 
nation in the world to attack and blockade. She is without natural resources. Four years 
of war have already left deep scars. She has a navy, but no air arm to support it. . . . 

In fact Japan had ten aircraft carriers, to match the three then available in 
Pacific waters to the United States Navy and its associates. 

As late as Friday, 21 November, President Roosevelt appears still to 
have been very doubtful about the intention of the Japanese to go to war, 
and reluctant to press matters with Japan. After lunching with the Presi- 
dent, Secretary of the Interior Harold L, Ickes recorded Mr. Roosevelt's re- 
marks, "he wished he knew whether Japan was playing poker or not/' and 
"he was not sure whether or not Japan had a gun up its sleeve." 12 In fact, 
Japan had several guns, and the one that would soon go off with the big- 
gest bang was the Japanese Navy's Striking Force then completing its as- 
sembly in Tankan Bay in the southern Kurils, preparatory to a dash across 
the Pacific toward Hawaii. 

By Monday afternoon, 24 November, the President and Secretary of 
State Hull had come to the conclusion that there was little remaining hope 
for a fruitful outcome of the negotiations. With Mr. Roosevelt's approval 
Admiral Stark and General Marshall thereupon drafted a joint dispatch to 
the senior Army and Navy commanders in the Philippines, which went out 
as a Navy message not only to the Philippine but also to other Navy com- 
manders, including Admiral Kimmel. The message warned of "a surprise 
aggressive movement in any direction" by Japanese forces, "including an 
attack on the Philippines or Guam;" and it requested its action addressees 
(among them, Admiral Kimmel) to inform the senior Army officer in their 
respective areas. 13 

When the next and better known warnings of 27 November went out, 
the Army and Navy chiefs in Washington knew that war was all but cer- 
tain, and probably imminent, although they had not been consulted about, 
nor even shown, the answer given to the Japanese envoys the preceding 

^Secret Diary of Harold L. Ickes, III, pp. 649-50- 

13 Rad, CNO to CINCAF, CINCPAC, etc., 24 Nov 41, WPD 4544-12- Subsequently, General 
Short could not remember having seen this message, and no copy of it could be found in Army files. 



afternoon. 14 Their concern and that of their staffs remained the Philippines; 
the War Department drafted its message of 27 November as a warning to 
General Douglas MacArthur, and phrased it to fit his peculiar circum- 
stances. Unfortunately, only slightly modified versions that did not take local 
circumstances so carefully into account were sent to the other principal 
Army commanders in the Pacific area, in Panama, on the west coast, and in 
Hawaii. 15 General Short's version read: 

Negotiations with Japan appear to be terminated to all practical purposes with only 
the barest possibilities that the Japanese Government might come back and offer to 
continue. Japanese future action unpredictable but hostile action possible at any 
moment. If hostilities cannot, repeat cannot, be avoided, the United States desires that 
Japan commit the first overt act. This policy should not, repeat not, be construed as 
restricting you to a course of action that might jeopardize your defense. Prior to hostile 
Japanese action, you are directed to undertake such reconnaissance and other measures 
as you deem necessary but these measures should be carried out so as not, repeat not, 
to alarm the civil population or disclose intent. Report measures taken. Should hos- 
tilities occur, you will carry out the tasks assigned in Rainbow 5 as far as they pertain 
to Japan. Limit dissemination of this highly secret information to minimum essential 
officers. 16 

Whereas the directive of General MacArthur to undertake reconnaissance 
was a sensible one, since that was at least partially his responsibility, it was 
not applicable to General Short's situation, for seaward reconnaissance to 
any meaningful distance was recognized in Hawaii as strictly the Navy's 
business. Furthermore, the clear instruction for action to General Mac- 
Arthur, ''you are directed to undertake such reconnaissance and other meas- 
ures as you deem necessary," was qualified in the other messages by the 
added phrase, "but these measures should be carried out so as not to alarm 
civil population or disclose intent." But almost anything that General Short 
might do on Oahu was bound to be observed; as his predecessor, General 
Herron, subsequently remarked, "Hawaii, or Pearl Harbor, is a goldfish 
bowl." 17 The first draft of the Hawaiian message had also included a specific 
warning about subversion; but after argument this warning went our as a sep- 
arate and almost simultaneous G-2 message, in these terms: "Japanese 
negotiations have come to practical stalemate. Hostilities may ensue. Sub- 

14 Langer and Gleason, The Undeclared War, p. 900. 

15 Clear evidence on this point is contained in the Notes on Conf in OCofS, 26 Nov 41, 
WDCSA 3S1 Philippines (1 2-4-41) ; and in Memo, ACofS WPD for CofS, 27 Nov 41, WPD 

16 Rad, CofS to CG Hawaiian Dept, 27 Nov 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 14, p. 132S. 

17 Testimony before Army Pearl Harbor Bd, 9 Aug 44, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 27, p. 129. 



versive activities may be expected. Inform commanding general and Chief 
of Staff only." 18 

Within half an hour after receiving the first message, and before he saw 
the second, General Short (after consulting with his Chief of Staff only) 
sent his report of action taken: "Report department alerted to prevent sab- 
otage. Liaison with Navy." 19 

The parallel Navy Department message of 27 November to Admiral 
Kimmel, more definite in its warning than the War Department's, reached 
Hawaii some time later in the day. Subsequently, General Short remembered 
seeing it (or at least a paraphrase of it), although he could not remember 
that it had in any way influenced his own course of action, despite its clear 
opening phrases: "This dispatch is to be considered a war warning. Negotia- 
tions with Japan . . . have ceased and an aggressive move by Japan is ex- 
pected within the next few days." Possibly the edge of these phrases was 
blunted for the Hawaiian commanders by the last sentence of the message, 
which implied that sabotage was now the worst that need be expected as 
far east as Guam and Samoa. 20 

The next day, 28 November, the Hawaiian Department received two 
more messages from Washington, one addressed to General Short and the 
other through him to his air commander, both of them emphasizing the 
need for the most careful precautions against sabotage and other subversive 
activities. 21 The general assumed these messages were follow-up replies to 
his terse report of the 27th. 22 He answered the first of the new messages 
promptly and in detail, and this reply reached General Marshall's office on 
1 December, 23 Since Washington made no comment on either of his reports, 
and gave him no further guidance about the impending crisis before the 
great blow fell, the general assumed also that the War Department ap- 
proved his course of action. 

General Short's action had been to order an Alert No. 1, as denned in 
a new Standing Operating Procedure dated 5 November 1941. This alert 
assumed increased danger of sabotage and internal unrest, but no threat 
from without. Under it the Army, in General Short's words, "put out a 
lot of additional guards and checked on everything," and for the two in- 

18 Rad, G-2 to G-2 Hawaiian Dept, 27 Nov 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 14, p. 1329. 

19 Rad, CG Hawaiian Dept to CofS, 28 Nov 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 14, p. 1330 

20 Rad, OPNAV to Fleet Comdrs, 27 Nov 41, WPD 4544-16. 

21 Rads, TAG to CG Hawaiian Dept, 28 Nov 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 14, p. 1330. 

22 "I got a reply back from the Adjutant General the next day." Testimony of General Short 
before Roberts Commission, 23 Dec 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 22, p. 39. 

23 Rad, CG Hawaiian Dept to TAG, 29 Nov 41, AG 381 (n-27-41) Gen. 



fantry divisions this meant keeping thirty officers and 1,012 enlisted men 
on guard and patrol duty. 2 * The Hawaiian Air Force was ordered to concen- 
trate planes so that they could be guarded more easily, and these orders 
were as easily executed since that was the usual practice at Hickam and 
Wheeler Fields anyway. 25 The only deviation from procedures prescribed 
under Alert No. 1 was an order directing the operation of the new Army 
radar machines between four and seven each morning — the most likely 
period for a carrier strike, according to previous studies. On 28 November 
the local press explained, 'The entire Hawaiian Department was ordered 
on a 'routine training alert' last night." ~ 6 

Why General Short did not alert his command more fully was to be- 
come the subject of long questioning after the Japanese attacked. The new 
Standard Operating Procedure had prescribed two higher alerts: under No. 

2, against a threat of air and surface bombardment, all coastal and air 
defenses, including antiaircraft guns, were to be ready for action; under No. 

3, against a threat of invasion as well, all Army defenders were to occupy 
battle positions. When first questioned, General Short said he ordered Alert 
No. 1 for three reasons: first, he thought there was a "strong possibility" 
of sabotage, and he feared sabotage more than anything else; second, he 
had no information about any danger of external attack; and third, either 
No. 2 or No. 3 would interfere very seriously with training — "it was im- 
possible to do any orderly training with them on." 27 

Before the warnings from Washington came in on 27 November, Gen- 
eral Short had been in conference for three hours during the morning with 
Admiral Kimmel, Admiral Bloch, and members of their staffs, discussing a 
Washington plan for reinforcing Midway and Wake Islands by sending 
out fifty of the most modern Army pursuit planes then on Oahu. A proposal 
that the Hawaiian Department should part with half of its effective pur- 
suit strength for even a limited period must itself have been an indication 
to General Short, as it was to Admiral Kimmel, that Washington had no 
inkling of any Japanese plan to attack Oahu. For local warning of such an 
attack the general was completely dependent on the Navy. During the con- 
ference on the 27th Admiral Kimmel turned to his War Plans officer, Capt. 

24 Testimony of Gen Short before Army Pearl Harbor Bd, n Aug 44, Pearl Harbor Attack, 
pt. 27, p. 230; USAFMIDPAC Hist, Bulky Package 2, draft ch., Implementation of Defense. 
The 5 Nov 1 94 1 SOP is published in Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 24, pp. 2107-20. 

25 See testimony of Brig Gen Howard C. Davidson, CG 14th Pursuit Wing, before Roberts 
Commission, 23 Dec 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 22, p. 110. 

20 Honolulu Advertiser, Nov 28, 1941, p. 1. 

27 Testimony before Roberts Commission, 23 Dec 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 22, p. 36. 



Charles H. McMorris, and asked specifically what the chances of a surprise 
raid on Oahu were, and the answer was "none/' No one of the other Navy 
officials present challenged this judgment, and General Short saw no reason 
to question it. Both he and his naval colleagues were also heavily influenced 
by the knowledge that Japan could not attack Oahu with land-based planes, 
and by the continuing assumption that the Japanese would not risk a carrier 
strike as long as the bulk of the Pacific Fleet was in or west of Hawaiian 
waters. 28 

The proposal to send Army pursuit planes to Midway and Wake was 
only one of several measures planned or in preparation for sending Army 
reinforcements out of Oahu to the westward and southwestward, in an- 
ticipation of Japanese action. On 27 November General Short informed 
Admiral Bloch that the Army could not spare any 500-pound bombs with 
which to stock Midway and Wake; and even if that had been possible, the 
Army had no heavy bombers available to operate from them in an emer- 
gency — while the Hawaiian Department had six B-17's in commission, all 
available and trained B-17 crews were engaged in ferrying heavy bombers 
to the Philippines. On 29 November the War Department notified the gen- 
eral that it had assumed responsibility for defending Christmas and Canton 
Islands on the new air ferry route to Australia and directed him to prepare 
small task forces for dispatch to these islands as soon as possible. Mean- 
while, the flow of B-i7's from California through Hawaii to the Philip- 
pines continued; all of them came into Oahu unarmed, and it was General 
Short's responsibility to see to it that they were made combat-ready before 
flying westward. 29 

All these factors helped to influence General Short's decision to order 
and maintain a No. 1 alert only; and he must also have been influenced by 
knowledge that his air defense system was not ready to operate and that he 
could not spot many of the Army's antiaircraft guns in their assigned field 
positions without provoking protests from powerful civilian interests on 
Oahu. 30 

The Navy commanders had no more prescience than General Short in 

28 See particularly General Short's testimony before the Roberts Commission on 23 Dec 41, 
Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 22, pp. 43, 85, 96. See also "Admiral Kimmel's Own Story of Pearl 
Harbor," in VS. News and World Report, Dec 10, 1954, p. 134. 

29 Starting on 23 Dec 1941, the testimony on these various points before the several Pearl 
Harbor investigating committees was very voluminous, and all in Pearl Harbor Attack. War 
Department proposals and action can be followed in WPD 3878-12, WPD 4544-9, AG 381 
(11-27-41), AG 381 (12-5-41), and WDCSA 381 Philippines (12-4-41). 

30 On this last point, see testimony of Gen Burgin before Pearl Harbor Bd, 8 Sep 44, Pearl 
Harbor Attack, pt. 28, p. 1370. 



foreseeing what was about to happen. The Navy was already operating un- 
der procedures similar to those under the Army's No. i alert; and the only 
new precaution ordered locally after the warning of the 27th was a careful 
surface patrol of Hawaiian waters against submarine attack. The Navy had 
about fifty long-range patrol planes with which it could have instituted 
distant reconnaissance from Oahu ; but after careful reflection Admiral Kim- 
mel decided his best course was "to bend every effort towards getting the 
patrol planes ready for unlimited war operations" rather than M to expend 
their efforts in partial and ineffective peace-time searches." 31 In consequence, 
when the attack came, the Navy had only three of its Oahu-based patrol 
planes in the air. And these were fleet planes, since none of the 108 aircraft 
specifically allotted by the Navy to Hawaii for distant reconnaissance was 
due to arrive for another year. 32 

Between 27 November and 7 December 1941 neither the Army nor the 
Navy made an effort to invoke any of the plans for unity of command and 
joint operations so carefully drawn earlier in the year. Despite General 
Short's personal conferences with Navy opposites on 27 November and on 
several other occasions during the succeeding ten days, an almost perfect 
insulation continued to exist between the local defense preparations of the 
two services (the conferences being about new defense measures to the west- 
ward) . On this score, there can be no exception to what the majority of the 
Congressional Pearl Harbor Joint Committee had to say in 1946: "It can 
fairly be concluded that there was a complete failure in Hawaii of effective 
Army-Navy liaison during the critical period and no integration of Army 
and Navy facilities and efforts for defense. Neither of the responsible com- 
manders really knew what the other was doing with respect to essential mili- 
tary activities." 33 Perhaps the most significant explanation of the almost 
complete absence of effective co-operation between the Army and Navy in 
local defense matters is the one pointed out by the Army and Navy Pearl 
Harbor investigating boards, that in Hawaii "no one in authority appre- 
ciated the danger to which Pearl Harbor was exposed and consequently the 
Army and Navy commanders . . . were preoccupied with training activities 
to the exclusion of adequate alertness against attack," 34 

In any event Army and Navy business on Oahu proceeded almost as 

31 Corrected testimony before Roberts Commission, 27 Dec 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 22, 
p. 329. 

32 Testimony before Roberts Commission of Admiral Bloch, 30 Dec 41, and of Rear Adm 
Patrick N. O. Bellinger, 31 Dec 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 22, pp. 500, 557-58. 

33 Pearl Harbor Report, p. 153. 

34 Memo, COMINCH for SN, 3 Dec 44, in Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 39, pp. 383-86. 



usual in the ten days before the Japanese attacked. Probably it was chance 
rather than design that brought all eight battleships of the Pacific Fleet in- 
to Pearl Harbor at one time on and after 2 December. At any rate they 
made a fine showing for the newly appointed Soviet Ambassador to the 
United States, Maxim Litvinoff, who arrived from the Orient en route to the 
United States on Thursday afternoon, 4 December — and became an un- 
official overnight guest of the Governor and his naval aide. 35 The three 
most valuable properties of the Pacific Fleet, the aircraft carriers Lexington, 
Enterprise, and Saratoga, were all away. The battleship crews undoubtedly 
provided many of the 24,000 spectators who witnessed the annual Shrine- 
sponsored football game on Saturday afternoon, 6 December, from which 
the University of Hawaii emerged victorious over Willamette University 
by a score of 20 to 6. 36 

Three days earlier, a plea for more field repair and maintenance equip- 
ment had been sent by the Hickman commander to the Commanding Gen- 
eral, Hawaiian Air Force, which opened: "Due to the unsettled world con- 
ditions, it is believed that there is a probability of there being a necessity in 
the near future of repairing and defending this and other airdromes of this 
Department." 37 But the official Army outlook, as presented in a reconstructed 
G~2 estimate of the situation, was less alarming. This estimate noted that 
the Hawaiian Department had no knowledge of Japanese naval vessels 
in waters farther east than the China Sea and no information to indicate 
operations by Japanese aircraft except on the Asiatic mainland and in ad- 
jacent areas. Locally, there had been plenty of warnings about sabotage, 
but no action by a resident of the Territory of Hawaii had indicated that 
subversive acts would be committed. The conclusions were: 

1. There was a possibility that disruption of relations, or war might result at any 
time from overt acts by Japan either in the form of military action in the Far East, 
sinking of transports enroute to the Philipp ines, or other similar acts. 

2. With the large part of the American Navy based in the Hawaiian waters the 
probability of an attack by the Japanese carriers was believed to be negligible. 38 

In other words Hawaii, preparing for war, as yet had no need itself to be 
ready for large-scale attack. 

z * Honolulu Advertiser, Dec 2, 5, and 6, 1941. 

36 Ibid., Dec 7, 1941 (preattack edition) . 

37 Ltr, CO Hickam Field to CG Hawaiian Air Force, 3 Dec 41, copy in notes used in 
preparation of USAFMIDPAC Hist. 

38 Summary of Situation, by ACofS G-2 Hawaiian Dept, written on 22 Dec 41 but depicting 
outlook as of 7 Dec 41, in Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 22, p. 25. 



The Plan and Launching of the Attack 

The Japanese Navy had a very different idea, although the surprise 
carrier attack on Oahu on the morning of 7 December 1941 did not be- 
come an integral part of Japanese war plans until almost the last moment. 
For several years before 1941, Japanese naval plans had contemplated a 
possible submarine attack on the United States Fleet in Hawaiian waters, 
but it was only in January of that year that a scheme was proposed for a 
surprise air attack on the fleet while berthed and anchored in Pearl Harbor. 
Japanese sources are unanimous in crediting authorship of the idea to 
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander in chief of the Combined Fleet?* 
Its feasibility may have been suggested by United States Fleet exercises of 
1938, during which the carrier Saratoga, demonstrated that such a surprise 
attack could be successfully launched. Yamamoto's proposal, and its sub- 
sequent highly secret study, coincided with a rumor reported by Ambassador 
Joseph C. Grew from Tokyo on 27 January 1941 that a surprise mass attack 
on Pearl Harbor was being planned by the Japanese. 40 

In May 1941 Admiral Yamamoto presented his idea to the Japanese 
Naval General Staff. Without rejecting it outright that body remained, at 
least until late August, generally opposed to including a risky carrier oper- 
ation in Japanese plans for naval action in the event of war with the United 
States; and it was not until 20 October that the Naval General Staff formally 
approved the plan. In the meantime, it appears that during the spring and 
summer of 1941 the 1st Air Fleet under Yamamoto's direction undertook 
some preliminary detailed planning and training for an attack such as the 
admiral had projected; and between 2 and 13 September his plan was war- 
gamed in Tokyo by Combined Fleet and Naval General Staff officers. In 
the midst of these table-top maneuvers, on 6 September, the Japanese Gov- 
ernment made its decision to go to war with the United States, Great Britain, 
and the Netherlands, unless its minimum demands for control of a Greater 
East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere were met by late October. 41 

39 The best and most detailed account of the Japanese plans and preparations for the Pearl 
Harbor attack is that by Robert E. Ward, "The Inside Story of the Pearl Harbor Plan," in linked 
States Naval Institute Proceedings (December 1951), vol. 77, pp.1271-83. The operation is best 
described in Morison, Rising Sun in the Pacific, pp. 8off. 

40 Grew's report was duly though not quite accurately passed on to the War Department, as 
indicated by Memo, Lt Col Rufus S. Bratton, G-2, for Col Charles H, Mason, G-2, 28 Jan 41, 
in OPD Pearl Harbor Resume. 

41 See Japanese Monograph No. 152, Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, pt. V, 
1940-41, especially pp. 44-48; and Far East Hist Source file, Important National Policy 
Decisions, app. XVIII, 



War-gaming convinced the Japanese Navy that the Pearl Harbor plan 
was feasible, although it might cost two carriers and one-third the attacking 
force of planes. Some serious technical difficulties remained to be overcome: 
one was the problem of a mid-Pacific mass refueling; another, not solved 
until early October, involved fixing wooden fins to naval torpedoes in order 
to stabilize them enough to be effective in the shallow waters of Pearl 
Harbor; another required the last-minute conversion of a large number of 
1 6-inch armor-piercing shells into i ? y6o-pound aerial bombs for the high 
altitude horizontal bombers to be employed. In late October the project was 
allotted top priority and maximum strength when the Japanese Army agreed 
to release aircraft from Manchuria for southern operations, and six carriers — 
including two new ones just commissioned — became available for the Ha- 
waiian attack, instead of four as previously planned. On 5 November the 
Japanese Navy issued its detailed operational orders for action, on 7 No- 
vember it tentatively announced 8 December (7 December in Hawaii) as 
"opening day," and by 17 November the approved detailed plan for the 
Pearl Harbor attack had been delivered to the Striking Force* 2 Sailing from 
a desolate harbor in the Kurils on 27 November, its ships moved silently and 
undetected across the North Pacific, but with orders to return if the United 
States and Japan reached agreement before the fatal day. 

The Carrier Striking Task Force, or 1st Air Fleet, that was headed for 
Oahu, was a power-packed combination of 6 fast carriers supported and 
escorted by 2 fast battleships, 2 heavy cruisers, 6 destroyers, and 3 submarines. 
Aboard the carriers were more than 360 airplanes. Information passed 
through Tokyo kept the Striking Force supplied with precise last-minute in- 
formation about the ships actually in Pearl Harbor, although the maps and 
some of the information available to the force were distinctly out of date. 
After reaching a point 500 miles due north of Oahu during the evening of 
6 December (Hawaiian dating), the ships raced southward and prepared 
their planes for launching at a point about 200 miles from the island. 

In the meantime another Japanese force of twenty-five submarines had 
deployed south of Oahu. These long-range and modern submarines belonged 
to the Advance Expeditionary Force of the 6th Fleet, and five of them carried 
two-man midget submarines "piggy-back," for launching and penetration of 
Pearl Harbor to abet the air attack. And, if the Pacific Fleet got wind of the 
approaching carrier force and sortied, the 6th Fleet submarines were to attack 
en masse. 43 

42 Ward, op. cit., p. 1278; Japanese Monograph No. 97. 

43 Japanese Monograph No. 102. 



The Japanese planned to fly the first wave of planes from the carriers 
at 6:00 a.m. and begin their bombing two hours later, one-half hour after 
the United States had been formally notified by Japan that it would seek re- 
course to arms to attain its ends. Thus did Japan plan to avoid a charge of 
"attack without warning,' 1 but the plan cut the time element too fine to allow 
for human error (in this case, slow decoding and typing of the Japanese 
message at the Washington Embassy) and the bombs were falling before 
Japanese diplomats arrived at the State Department to deliver the news of 
war. From intercepts American officials had already obtained a full transla- 
tion of the Japanese message hours earlier, but they did not appreciate the 
full significance of its 1:00 p.m. deadline (7:30 a.m., Oahu time). Even 
General Marshall, who sent a last-minute warning about the deadline to 
Pacific commanders, went home to lunch instead of waiting in his office to 
find out what might be going to happen at that hour. And his warning did 
not reach General Short until hours after the event. 44 

On Oahu the military forces did obtain other warnings of impending 
action. More than four hours before the air attack began, one of the midget 
submarines was sighted less than two miles outside the Pearl Harbor en- 
trance buoy, and either this submarine or another like it was sunk near the 
harbor entrance at a quarter to seven. According to standing orders, the 
presence of any unidentified submarine in restricted waters was to be con- 
sidered a warning of imminent attack on a larger scale; but the Navy was 
still in process of checking the authenticity of reports of these submarine 
actions when the big attack came. No one thought to tell the Army about 
them. 45 

On Oahu's north shore, three Army mobile SCR-270 radar sets were in 
operation this Sunday morning, from 4:00 to 7:00 a.m., in accordance with 
the schedule established under Alert No. 1. ( $ee Maf>~71\ .) All three (Ka- 
wailoa, Opana, and Kaaawa) recorded the approach of two Japanese recon- 
naissance planes, launched from cruisers, when they were about fifty miles 
away, beginning at 6:45 a.m. One of the stations (but not Opana) reported 
this flight to a Navy lieutenant on duty at the Army information center at 
Fort Shafter about 6:52 a.m., who reported it to another Navy lieutenant 

44 On General Marshall's movements and actions this day, see especially Memo for Red, Col 
Walter B. Smith, SGS, 15 Dec 41, and Memo, Col John R. Deane, ASGS, for Brig Gen Walter 
B. Smith, 8 Jun 42, both in WDCSA Hawaii 1940-43. For a more detailed account in this 
series, see Watson, Prewar Plans and Preparations, pp. 512-19. 

45 Morison, Rising Sun in the Pacific, pp. 95-97; Walter Lord, Day of Infamy (New York; 
Henry Holt and Company, 1957), contains a detailed and authentic blow-by-blow account of the 
whole Pearl Harbor action, including these midget submarine operations. 



who responded that the Navy "had a reconnaissance flight out and that's 
what this flight was." 46 Much better known is the report by the Opana sta- 
tion at 7:20 a.m. of a mass flight of planes approaching from a northerly 
direction. This was the first wave of Japanese bombers and fighters, which 
had been spotted by the Opana radar just after seven while still some 130 
miles from Oahu. By the time the Opana report came in the information 
center had officially closed down, and an Army lieutenant who happened to 
be still on duty decided that nothing need be done about the call — he knew 
that American carriers were out and assumed that Opana had picked up a 
reconnaissance flight from one of them. 47 

The Attack and the Response 

An exact account of the Japanese air attack on the Pearl Harbor area and 
on Army airfields elsewhere on Oahu is impossible, partly because the com- 
mander of the first wave of planes gave a signal that was partially mis- 
interpreted, so that the action did not proceed exactly according to a cal- 
culated plan. The first wave consisted of 49 high-level bombers, 51 dive 
bombers, 43 fighters, and 40 torpedo planes, a total of 183 planes. After 
approaching the north shore of Oahu about 7:40 a.m., some of the planes 
circled the island in order to swing in from the sea against south shore 
targets, while others flew over and between the mountain ranges to attack 
Wheeler Field and then other targets beyond. The attack began in the Pearl 
Harbor area at 7:55 a.m. — or five minutes early by the schedule so nicely 
timed in relation to the Japanese notification to Washington. All types of 
Japanese planes attacked more or less simultaneously. The torpedo planes 
did the greatest havoc to the battleships and other naval vessels afloat. All 
together, 8 battleships, 3 light cruisers, 3 destroyers, and 4 other naval vessels 
were destroyed or severely damaged, and most of this damage was done by 
the first wave. The greatest loss of life (almost half the total) occurred early 
in the attack after one of the converted 16-inch shell bombs crashed into the 
battleship Arizona and exploded in a forward magazine, with awesome 
consequences. Within five minutes or so the Navy's ships, whether hit or not, 

46 Rpt as stated by Rear Adm R. B. Ingles, Dir, Naval Intel, in Tel Conv with Lt Gen 
Thomas T. Handy, DCofS, 8 Nov 45, extract in OPD Pearl Harbor file, Misc Corresp. See also 
Army Exhibit, p. 8, copy in OPD file, Documentation — Pearl Harbor Brief; Morison, op. cit., 
p. 138 and n. 84; and Testimony of Lt Col William E. G. Taylor before Roberts Commission, 
3 Jan 42, in Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 23, p. 757. This incident escaped the attention of all the 
Pearl Harbor investigating committees. 

47 Thompson, et at., The Test, pp 3-4. 


began putting up a tremendous antiaircraft barrage. The ships had 353 large- 
caliber and 427 short-range weapons aboard — or several times the Army's 
antiaircraft strength on Oahu. Nonetheless, while many Japanese planes 
were riddled, only 9 were lost from the first wave as a result of American 
combat action. 

The second wave of Japanese planes consisted of 54 high-level and 80 
dive bombers and 36 fighters, making the total number of Japanese planes 
participating in the attack 353, plus the 2 reconnaissance planes that came 
in earlier. Launched one hour and fifteen minutes after the first wave, the 
planes of the second began to arrive on target shortly before 9:00 a.m. and 
continued the mass attack until about 9:45. The second wave, meeting stiff er 
antiaircraft resistance (mostly from Navy guns) and from a few Army 
fighter planes, lost 20 planes in action. The loss in combat of 29 planes 
represented 8 percent of those engaged, a proportion close to the average 
loss then being sustained by attacking forces in similar-sized air raids in 
Europe against alerted defenses. Some other Japanese planes were smashed 
up as they returned to their carriers, and of these at least 20 were a total loss. 
By about 1:00 p.m. all returning Japanese planes were back on the carriers, 
and the Striking Force raced away to the northwest * 8 

Although damage to the Pacific Fleet was the primary objective, the 
Japanese assigned 199 of the attacking planes, or nearly 60 percent of the 
total force, to missions against Army and Navy airfields on Oahu. The results 
for the Navy and the Marine Corps on this account were even more devastat- 
ing than for the Army: at the Kaneohe Seaplane Base on the northeast shore, 
every one of the 33 patrol planes present was destroyed or damaged; nearly 
as great loss was sustained at the Ewa Marine Air Station west of Pearl Har- 
bor, where not a single plane was left in condition to fly during or immedi- 
ately after the attack; and the same fate overtook all of the patrol planes 
at the Ford Island Naval Air Station. In all, the Navy and Marine Corps 
had 87 planes destroyed and 31 damaged, and these figures included almost 
all of the fighters, bombers, and patrol planes on hand. In addition, during 
and after the attack the carrier Enterprise lost a number of planes flown into 

48 Two works by Japanese authors contain chapters on the Pearl Harbor action that are 
interesting supplements to the many other published works that have appeared. These volumes 
are: Mitsuo Fuchida and Mas a take Okumiya, Midway: The Battle That Doomed Japan: The 
Japanese Navy's Story (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute, 1955); Masatake Okumiya and Moro 
Horikoshi, Zero: The Inside Story of the Naval Air War in the Pacific (New York: E. P. Dutton 
and Company, Inc., 1956). On Japanese plane losses, see Craven and Cate, eds., Plans and Early 
Operations } p. 200. 



the battle area, at least five of which were shot down by naval antiaircraft 
fire. 49 

At Hickam Field, where the Army had its usable bombers lined up in 
close formation in front of the hangars, the first Japanese planes flew over 
at 7:55 a.m. These were torpedo planes headed for Pearl Harbor, but they 
were followed almost immediately by four flights of dive bombers coming 
in from the south, southeast, and north almost simultaneously for bombing 
and strafing attacks on the supply depot, repair shops, and hangars. This 
opening attack lasted about ten minutes. A second one came at 8:25, this 
time from more low-flying dive bombers and one or more flights of high- 
altitude bombers. The third and final attack, by dive bombers and strafing 
fighters of the second wave, struck around 9:00 a.m. These strikes left the 
Hawaiian Air Depot completely destroyed, three of the five hangars burned, 
the barracks and other post installations badly damaged, and more than half 
the bombers present destroyed or damaged seriously. Casualties at Hickam 
were also heavy, particularly among men who had taken refuge in the hang- 
ars after the first attack. But the most vital facilities — the repair shops and 
machinery, and gasoline storage tanks — remained largely untouched. 50 

In the midst of the Hickam action twelve unarmed B-17's being ferried 
from the mainland arrived over Oahu. Eight of them managed to land at 
Hickam, and of the other four two came down at Haleiwa, one at Bellows, 
and one on a golf course near the northern tip of Oahu. Enemy action de- 
stroyed one of the planes and badly damaged three others. 51 

A few minutes after the initial attack on Hickam, about twenty-five dive 
bombers hit at the hangars at Wheeler Field, and heavy casualties occurred 
when one bomb exploded in an adjoining barracks. After the bombing, the 
Japanese planes circled back at very low altitudes to machine-gun the pursuit 
craft parked (as at Hickam) in close formation in front of the hangars, and, 
as they circled, some of the enemy strafed nearby Schofield Barracks. After 
an extended lull another machine gun attack struck Wheeler, shortly after 
9:00 a.m., and caught a number of pursuit ships being taxied to the runways 
for launching. Wheeler lost two hangars, and more than two-thirds of its 
planes were destroyed or badly damaged. The first attack effectively prevented 
any large-scale response by Wheeler's fighter planes. 

49 Exhibit 6, Pearl Harbor Attack, Part 12, pp. 351-58, in which a loss of 5 planes from the 
Enterprise is recorded. But see Morison, op. cit., p. 121; and Walter Karig and Welbourn Kelley, 
"Battle Report," Pearl Harbor to Coral Sea (New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1944), p. 19, 
which gives figures of 11 planes and 9 men lost. 

50 Ltr ( CG Hawaiian Dept to CofS, 12 Dec 41, and rpts in AG 381 (12 Dec 41) . 

51 Craven and Cate, eds., Plans and Early Operations, pp. 199-200. 



Wheeler Field After the Bombing. Schofield Barracks is in the background. 

On the eve of Pearl Harbor the Army had two of its pursuit squadrons 
dispersed to Bellows and Haleiwa Fields for gunnery practice, and the planes 
of these squadrons were armed and needed only fuel and warming up to be 
ready for action. Apparently the Japanese did not plan to attack either of 
these outlying fields. A single fighter strafed Bellows about 8:30 a.m., and 
the flight of nine planes that attacked the same field about a half -hour later 
seems to have been attracted by the B-17 which landed there. Material dam- 
age at Bellows was slight, and was even less at Haleiwa Field, strafed by a 
single plane that followed in the two B-17's which landed there. The second 
attack on Bellows caught the Army pursuits just as they were taking off. 
Two of them were shot down before they could gain altitude, and one pilot 
was killed as he climbed into his plane. 52 

At all Army installations attacked by the Japanese, enemy dive bombers 
and fighters strafed individuals promiscuously, and in return Army men 

52 Ltr, Post Operations Officer, Wheeler Field, to CG Hawaiian Air Force, 18 Dec 41, AG 
381 (12 Dec 41); Testimony of Col Lorry N. Tindal before Army Pearl Harbor Bd, 2 Oct 44, 
Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 29, pp. 2290-94; Testimony of Maj George S. Welch before Army 
Pearl Harbor Bd, 30 Aug 44, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 28, p, 1030. 



fired back with machine guns and lesser weapons. But the enly effective 
action came from the planes at Haleiwa. Two young lieutenants at Wheeler 
were sufficiently alert after an all-night poker game to phone Haleiwa to 
have their planes fueled and warmed up and then to race over there and get 
off in P-40's at or soon after 8:15 a.m. One of them is credited with shooting 
down four Japanese planes. Another flight from Haleiwa had a less happy 
result when one of its planes, a P-36, was shot down by machine-gun fire 
from Schofield Barracks. Six P-36's managed to get into the air from Wheeler 
Field during the attack, and four of them engaged the nine enemy planes 
which attacked Bellows Field. American pilots claimed two of the Japanese, 
and one of their own number was shot down. 53 

Including the B-17's arriving from the mainland, some 249 Army planes 
were involved in the Pearl Harbor attack, and of these about 74 were de- 
stroyed and 71 seriously damaged. 54 Among bombers the R-i8's, which were 
expendable, sustained the greatest loss; 14 of 24 B-17 heavies and 10 of 12 
modern light A-20 bombers came through comparatively unscathed. The 
fighters took a heavier beating, but by 10 December the Army had 44 of them 
ready for action. 55 

Most of the Army's antiaircraft guns were unable to function during the 
attack. None of the mobile 3-inch batteries was at its assigned field position, 
and ammunition for all of them had to be fetched from the Ordnance Depot. 
The Hawaiian Coast Artillery Command alerted the units of the 53d Coast 
Artillery Brigade (Antiaircraft Artillery) at 8:10 a.m., and within three or 
four minutes antiaircraft batteries at Fort Kamehameha (next to Hickam) and 
at Fort Weaver (on the other side of the Pearl Harbor entrance) opened fire 
with small arms. At 8:30 a fixed 3-inch battery at Weaver began to fire, and 
similar batteries at Kamehameha and on Sand Island in Honolulu harbor 
opened up against Japanese planes, the Sand Island battery claiming two of 
them. Other antiaircraft units at Camp Molekoli and Schofield Barracks fired 
small arms only at the enemy, the Schofield unit claiming one plane (in addi- 

s3 The most reliable contemporary account of Army fighter activity appears to be that in the 
letter of the Post Operations Officer, Wheeler Field, cited in the preceding footnote. See also 
Lord, Day of Infamy, pp. 59fF. 

54 The Hawaiian Air Force had an assigned strength of 231 planes on 7 December, but the 
number actually on hand appears to have been somewhat greater. The figures given on planes 
involved and losses have been calculated from divergent figures contained in Army Exhibit, p. 9; 
Incl to Ltr„ Post Operations Officer, Wheeler Field, to CG Hawaiian Air Force, 18 Dec 41, cited, 
reporting aircraft status and losses at Wheeler and its satellite fields as of 9 December 1941; and 
Memo, CofS Hawaiian Air Force to CG Hawaiian Air Force, 20 Dec 41, copy in USAFMIDPAC 
Hist notes, reporting aircraft status and losses at all fields as of 20 Dec 41. 

55 Tel Conv, Gen Short and DCofS Bryden, 10 Dec 41, in OCS Tel Conv, binder 1 ; Testimony 
of Gen Short before Army Pearl Harbor Bd, 11 Aug 44, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 27, p. 172. 



tion to the American one) . But, with only a small fraction of the Army's 
antiaircraft potential brought into play, its effort on this score was insignifi- 
cant in comparison with the barrage thrown up by the guns of the Pacific 
Fleet. 56 

Within minutes after the first torpedoes and bombs struck at Pearl Harbor, 
General Short issued orders that put the Hawaiian Department on a full war 
footing. By 8:45 a.m. his headquarters had begun to operate a forward com- 
mand post located in tunnels at the Aliamanu Crater, three miles west of 
Fort Shafter. Between 8:10 and 9:00 a.m. the major ground commands — 
the Hawaiian Coast Artillery Command and the 24th and 25th Infantry 
Divisions — received word to deploy and take the actions required under a 
No. 3 Alert. Actually, all three had begun so to act before they got the 
formal word. The 24th Division had a battalion of infantry on the road 
from Schofield Barracks to its assigned battle position by 9:00 a.m., and 
thereafter other divisional units left Schofield as soon as they had drawn 
and loaded their ammunition and otherwise prepared for action. By late 
afternoon, all divisional elements were digging in at their assigned field posi- 
tions, with all weapons except heavy howitzers at hand and ready to fire. 
As General Short put it, in the deployment "everything clicked/' one of his 
junior officers explaining: "We had gone so many times to our war positions 
that it just seemed like drill when they were firing at us." 57 The deployment 
showed clearly enough that the Hawaiian Department was thoroughly pre- 
pared to resist invasion, however unready it was against the peril of surprise 
air attack. 

After the attack was over the Army defenders, still anticipating invasion, 
gave credence to a host of rumors and reports that enemy forces were still 
at hand. Throughout 7 December reports that parachute troops had landed 
poured in from all over Oahu, and sightings of hostile ships off shore were 
almost as numerous. With darkness the situation became even more tense, 
and General Short ordered all forces to be ready to resist another air attack 
or attempted landing at dawn. Throughout the night Army troops fired small 
weapons rather freely all over the island — with some ground patrols firing at 

56 Details of Army antiaircraft action are set forth in Ltr, CO 53d Coast Artillery Brigade 
(AA) to CG Hawaiian Dept, 20 Dec 41, in Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 7, pp. 3002-004, and in 
War Diary, Hawaiian Coast Artillery Command, 7 to 31 Dec 41, in AG 381 (12 Dec 41) 
(Bulky Package). In all, the Army claimed 11 Japanese planes shot down, the Navy 28; on the 
other hand the Japanese claimed all but 29 planes returned to the carriers. See Pearl Harbor 
Report, p. 65. 

57 Testimony of Gen Short before Army Pearl Harbor Bd, 11 Aug 44, Pearl Harbor Attack, 
pt. 27, p. 231, and of Capt Frank W. Ebey before Roberts Commission, 26 Dec 41, Pearl Harbor 
Attack, pt. 22, p. 264. 



each other. The following entries from the War Diary of the Hawaiian 
Coast Artillery Command for 8 December indicate the tension as the new 
dawn approached: 

0428 — All units notified to be on alert for landing attack at dawn. 
0438 — Flash. 30 Enemy planes approaching from Kauai. 

0507 — Enemy planes dive bombing Wheeler Field. (Some firing by batteries in 
Wheeler Field took place.) 

0525 — Schofield AA group reports barrage fire (searchlights useless because of low 
ceiling) against planes, later reported as friendly. 

0608 — 53d Brigade reports small arms firing on friendly aircraft definitely 
established as from Marines or Navy. 58 

By afternoon on 8 December a more normal outlook began to prevail. Dur- 
ing the second night the firing tapered off, and orders similar to the fol- 
lowing, issued by the commander of the 25th Division, helped to stop it: 

Promiscuous firing at friendly airplanes has been prevalent during preceding 36- 
hour period. Such firing will be stopped at once. Under no circumstances will any 
person in this division take up fire against any airplanes hostile or friendly until he or 
his unit has been definitely attacked by bombing or machine gun fire. 59 

The last stray planes of the enemy had in fact departed from their rendezvous 
point west of Oahu about 11:00 a.m. on the morning of 7 December, although 
enemy submarines were still around. 

Except for some strafing, the Japanese confined their attack on 7 Decem- 
ber to military installations. The "bombs" which fell on Honolulu and other 
civilian parts of the island were Navy 5-inch antiaircraft shells which had 
failed to detonate in the air. Explosions in Honolulu started three major 
fires, and at least 57 civilians were killed and nearly as many seriously 
injured. 60 

Casualties among American service personnel were of course much 
higher. The Navy and Marine Corps have counted 2,117 killed or died of 
wounds, and 779 others wounded in action. 61 The far smaller Army casual- 
ties are difficult to determine with exactitude. General Short, in his report 
on the battle, listed 228 Army men dead or died of wounds, no seriously 
wounded, and 358 slightly wounded, a total of 696 Army battle casualties, 
as of midnight, 10 December, These appear to be about as accurate as any 

58 War Diary in AG 381 (12 Dec 41) (Bulky Package). 

59 Staff Journal, 25th Inf Div, 7 to 31 Dec 41, in AG 381 (12 Dec 41) (Bulky Package). 

60 Allen, Hawaii's Was Years, pp. 5-9; Testimony of Col Webster A. Capron, 30 Aug 44, 
and of Gen Burgin, 8 Sep 44, before Army Pearl Harbor Bd, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 28, 
pp. 1059. 1372. 

61 Morison, Rising Sun in the Pacific, p. 126. 



figures compiled and published since. 62 The enemy acknowledged a loss of 
55 men in planes; 9 of the 10 men aboard midget submarines were lost, the 
other one being America's first prisoner of war in World War II; and on 
10 December the Japanese also lost one of their large submarines (the I-jo) 
and its crew. 63 

When General Short submitted his report of the action to the War Depart- 
ment on 12 December, he had not yet heard of the drama being acted out 
on the isolated island of Niihau, west of Kauai. A crippled Japanese plane 
landed on Niihau on Sunday afternoon, about 2:00 p.m. After first being 
disarmed by a native Hawaiian, the Japanese pilot persuaded one of the two 
men of Japanese descent on the island — an American citizen — to free him, 
return his weapons, and join him on a rampage. The affair ended on Satur- 
day morning, 13 December, and before help summoned from Kauai had 
arrived. Another Hawaiian, Benhakaka Kanahele, and his wife were captured 
by the two Japanese; but they jumped their captors and, after Kanahele was 
fully aroused by bullets in his stomach, groin, and leg, he picked up the Jap- 
anese pilot and smashed his head against a stone wall. The Nisei took one 
look, shot himself, and the "Battle of Niihau" was over. 6 * 

Investigation and Judgment 

News of the Japanese attack on Oahu reached Washington almost im- 
mediately. The Navy sent the first official word at 8:00 a.m., and Secretary 
Hull knew about the attack before he received the Japanese envoys with their 
fateful message. President Roosevelt and his principal advisers had expected 
war, but they were as surprised as the Hawaiian commanders when the war 
began in Hawaii. To find out what had happened, and why, the President 
sent Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox on a flying trip to Hawaii, the Secre- 
tary arriving there on the morning of 11 December and departing the next 
afternoon. His report, delivered to Mr. Roosevelt on the morning of 15 De- 
cember, touched off the first of the formal investigations of the Pearl Harbor 

62 Ltr, CG Hawaiian Dept to CofS, 12 Dec 41, AG 381 (12 Dec 41). The History of the 
Office of the Surgeon General, Hawaiian Department, in the USAFMIDPAC Hist, compiled 
later from similar sources, lists 229 known Army dead or died of wounds, 113 seriously wounded f 
and 346 slightly wounded. See also the Pearl Harbor Report, p. 65 and note 29, which list 194 
killed in action, 22 missing in action, 21 died of wounds, 3 other dead (nonbattle) or declared 
dead, and 360 wounded, 

63 Pearl Harbor Report, p. 65; Japanese Monograph 102, p. 13. 

64 Allen, Hawaii's War Years, pp. 44-46; Lord, Day of Infamy, pp. 195-200; Rad, CG 
Hawaiian Dept to TAG, 15 Dec 41, AG 381 (n-27-41) (Gen). 



attack. None of them developed the position of the Hawaiian commanders 
any better than Secretary Knox did in his report: 

There was no attempt by either Admiral Kimmel or General Short to alibi the lack 
of a state of readiness for the air attack. Both admitted they did not expect it, and had 
taken no adequate measures to meet one if it came. Both Kimmel and Short evidently 
regarded an air attack as extremely unlikely because of the great distance which the 
Japs would have to travel to make the attack and ,the consequent exposure of such a 
task force to the superior gun power of the American fleet. Neither the Army nor the 
Navy Commander expected that an attack would be made by the Japanese while 
negotiations were still proceeding in Washington. Both felt that if any surprise attack 
was attempted it would be made in the Far East. 65 

There was likewise plenty of evidence of what happened on 7 December to 
substantiate Mr. Knox's conclusion that "once action was joined the courage, 
determination, and the resourcefulness of the armed services and of the 
civilian employees left nothing to be desired, 66 

Despite the devastation wrought by the Japanese, service chiefs both in 
Washington and in Hawaii underestimated the weight of the Japanese 
attack. The consensus in the days immediately following the action was that 
Japan had used no more than three carriers and 180 planes. 67 This under- 
estimate persisted during December and January through the investigation 
of the commission headed by Justice Owen J. Roberts of the Supreme Court, 
and it lent a good deal more color than justifiable to charges that the Hawai- 
ian Department could have put up a much more effective defense if its forces 
had been properly alerted. Undoubtedly, if there had been plenty of warning, 
there could and would have been a more effective defense, but the Japanese 
struck with such overwhelming force that there would have been little dif- 
ference in the damage done — except, of course, to Japanese planes and pos- 
sibly to the carriers. Certainly the unheeded warnings of the last hour or so 
before the attack could have made little difference in the Army's defense. It 
would have required (and actually did require) several hours' effort to get 
most of the Army's antiaircraft guns into position and ready to fire, and in 
any event the Army had very few guns that could have dealt with the low- 
flying torpedo planes and dive bombers. As for the Army's pursuit ships, the 
well-known warning by the Opana radar might have provided enough time 

65 Rpt, SN to President, n.d. (circa 14 Dec 41), Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 24, p. 1753. 

66 Ibid., p. 1756. 

67 Naval Intelligence in Washington estimated that, of eight carriers in operation, Japan had 
used no more than three in the Oahu raid. Min, JB Mtg, 8 Dec 41. Ltr, Q~i Hawaiian Dept to 
G-2 War Dept, 20 Dec 41, and other papers in AG 381 (12 Dec 41), estimate 160-180 planes 
and "at least three carriers." 


to disperse them to bunkers at Wheeler Field, but not enough to get them 
into the air against the first wave of Japanese planes. 68 

As Admiral King observed three years after the event, the basic reason 
the attack succeeded so well was the general blindness of the United States 
Army and Navy to Japanese potentialities in the central Pacific. 69 The Roberts 
Commission and later investigations found much to criticize about the 
organization and operation of defense forces in Hawaii, but General Short 
and his Navy colleagues stoutly defended the "system." Said General Short: 
"I think the system is all right. I think that we made a very serious mis- 
take when we didn't go to an alert against an all out attack. I think that our 
system was perfectly all right. Our estimate of the situation was not." 70 
Whether Washington gave the Hawaiian commanders enough information 
to make a correct estimate of the situation remains a much argued question. 
But on the central issue of responsibility, no one has improved on the judg- 
ment of Secretary of War Stimson, recorded in his diary the day that the 
report of the Roberts Commission was made public: 

The printed report does not and could not go into what is the real underlying 
basis of the trouble, namely, that both services had not fully learned the lessons of the 
development of air power in respect to the defense of a navy and of a naval base. This 
failure and shortcoming pervaded the services and the nation. We had grown to rely on 
the impregnability of Pearl Harbor and nobody had anticipated that the Japs could 
make an attack by air as thoroughly as they did. Crete and Greece had taught us the 
vulnerability of a fleet in narrow seas against attacks by shore-based aircraft. It was the 
Japs who carried out this lesson of attacks upon a fleet from carriers in the high seas. 
I doubt if anybody in the Navy or the Army believed that they could successfully do it 
or would try it. Certainly nobody in the responsible positions. And it was only through 
such a disaster that we could all in the nation learn what modern air power can do even 
in the high seas. 71 

68 See Testimony of Gen Short before Congressional Jt Comm, 23 Jan 46, Pearl Harbor 
Attack, pt. 7, p. 2995. 

69 Memo, COMINCH to SN, 3 Dec 44, par. 11, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 39, p. 385. 

70 Testimony before Roberts Commission, 8 Jan 42, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 23, p. 987. 
71 Stimson Diary, entry of 25 Jan 42. 


The Hawaiian Defenses 
After Pearl Harbor 

When General Marshall and his principal subordinates met in Wash- 
ington on the morning of 8 December 1941, their greatest immediate concern 
was to discover ways and means of putting the Hawaiian garrison back on its 
feet. They agreed that the Hawaiian Air Force must be reconstituted as soon 
as possible, and General Marshall directed the Army Air Forces to give high- 
est priority to the movement of enough planes to Hawaii to build up Army 
air strength there to one full group of heavy bombardment and two full 
groups of pursuit. Hawaii's own most urgent plea was for "all possible heavy 
bombardment fully equipped," and fortunately this was the easiest of its 
requirements to meet quickly. War had interrupted the prepared flow of 
heavy bombers to the Philippines, and it was a simple matter for the Army 
Air Forces to continue it to Hawaii. By 21 December enough B-17's had 
been flown out from California to bring the heavy bomber force on Oahu 
to a full-group strength of forty-three planes. To get other army reinforce- 
ments to Hawaii in similar quick order was a much more vexing problem. 1 

The Navy, which at once ordered the transfer of three battleships and an 
aircraft carrier from the Atlantic Fleet to the Pacific, was insistent that the 
Army send everything it could to bolster the defenses of Hawaii. On the 
other hand, the Navy did not want any ships to leave the west coast without 
escort, and Army reinforcements for Hawaii that had sailed just before the 
Japanese attacked were turned back to San Francisco. As of 9 December, 
the Army and Navy were agreed on a move that would have reinforced 
Hawaii from another direction, by the return of a sizable Philippine-bound 
convoy to Honolulu. But President Roosevelt overruled the services, and 

^ad, CG Hawaiian Dept to CofAAF, 7 Dec 41, copy in USAFMIDPAC Hist, Bulky File; 
Notes on Conf in OCofS, 8 Dec 41, OCS Conf, binder 29; Memo, Lt Col Clayton L. Bissell for 
ACofS WPD, 9 Dec 41, WPD 3807-105; AAF Monograph 41, Operational History of the Sev- 
enth Air Force, p. 105. 



the convoy was therefore ordered to proceed to Australia. Help for Hawaii 
would have to come from the mainland. 2 

For the first few days after Pearl Harbor both the War and the Navy 
Departments thought that the Japanese might have strong naval forces 
including carriers between Hawaii and the west coast, and the Navy objected 
to any ship movements from California until the situation east of Hawaii 
was clarified. The general underestimation of Japanese strength in the Pearl 
Harbor attack underlay this thinking, the Navy assuming that the Japanese 
had other carriers free for an attack on the Pacific coast. In turn, apprehen- 
sions of attacks on the American continent helped to modify the Army's 
initial position of giving first priority to Hawaii. More vital still than Pearl 
Harbor, from the Army's point of view, were the west coast bomber factories 
and the Panama Canal; and by 12 December the Army position was "to take 
all possible steps short of jeopardizing the security of the Continental United 
States and the Panama Canal to reinforce the defenses of Oahu." 3 

Another reason for the Army's more cautious stand may be found in 
doubts expressed by Secretary Stimson and others about the reliability of 
Pearl Harbor as the major Pacific naval base. 4 Naval officers on the spot 
shared these doubts. 5 They took their ships out of Pearl Harbor as fast as 
they could after the attack, and kept them at sea. As late as 20 January 1942 
Secretary Stimson noted his agreement with Mr. Justice Roberts (just back 
from Hawaii) that Pearl Harbor was "no longer a safe advance base for 
the Navy under the conditions of modern air and sea warfare." 6 But three 
weeks earlier Admiral William S. Pye, the acting fleet commander, had 
struck a more realistic chord when he testified before the Roberts Commission: 
"I do not believe that there is any other base in this area, and if we intend to 
conduct war in this area this base must be held and used." 7 

By the time of Admiral Pye's testimony the Navy knew that President 
Roosevelt was determined to push limited offensive operatiofts against Japan, 
and such operations could only be pushed from Hawaii. During December 

2 Notes of Min, JB Mtgs, 8, 9, and 10 Dec 41, in OCMH files. See also, in this series, Matloff 
and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941-42 pp. 78ff; and Richard M. Leighton and Robert W. Coaldey, 
Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-1943, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II 
(Washington, 1955), pp. i43ff. 

3 Memo, ACofS WPD for CofS, 12 Dec 41, WPD 4622-37. 

4 On 10 Dec Mr. Stimson is reported to have said "that he thought Hawaii was still good as 
an outpost and a port of temporary call, but he did not consider it a full defensive area." Notes 
on Conf with SW } 10 Dec 41, OCS Conf, binder 29. 

5 See, for example, Testimony of Capt Walter S. DeLany, USN, Operations Officer, CINCPAC, 
before Roberts Commission, 30 Dec 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 22, pp. 520-21. 

6 Stimson Diary, entry of 20 Jan 42. 

7 Testimony on 30 Dec 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 22, p. 544. 



the Navy of necessity recast its Pacific war plans, making the sure control of 
the Oahu-Midway line the task of first priority for the Pacific Fleet, and giv- 
ing second priority to that of holding the line from Hawaii to Samoa. The 
necessary corollary of the new strategy outlined for the Pacific Fleet was a 
much surer defense of Oahu by the United States Army. 8 

The Impact of War 

In Hawaii, under the impetus of attack and the ensuing excitement, the 
Army had moved quickly on 7 December 1941 to control almost every facet 
of public and private life. One of its first steps was to round up all still and 
motion pictures made of the attack itself, except those taken by the Navy. 
By 10:30 a.m., in co-operation with the Navy, the Army G-2 organization 
had begun to apply a tight censorship to prevent the transmission from 
Hawaii of any unauthorized information about the attack or about the condi- 
tion of Oahu's defense forces after it was over. A few minutes later, as Gov- 
ernor Joseph B. Poindexter was announcing over the radio that he had ordered 
Hawaii's emergency M-day act in effect, the Army shut him off because it 
thought Japanese attackers were using radio beams to guide their navigation. 
During the morning General Short also undertook to evacuate all civilian 
dependents from Hickam, Fort Kamehameha, and other damaged military 
installations, and his G-2 staff began a quick roundup of "enemy agents 
and suspicious characters." By 10 December the Army had interned 482 
Japanese, Germans, and Italians, 43 of them American citizens. 9 

The establishment of full martial law under the Army commander as mili- 
tary governor made this internment and the other actions taken not only pos- 
sible but unchallengeable. Since the summer of 1940 the Army had planned 
for military rule of the Territory of Hawaii if it was seriously threatened 
by invasion, and in March 1941 General Short had earnestly advocated a legal 
foundation that would empower the President to authorize martial law in 
an emergency. 10 The Hawaiian legislature sought to forestall Congressional 
action in Washington by passing its own M-day act on 3 October 1941. The 
Governor's action in declaring this act in force at 10:00 a.m. on 7 December 
did not satisfy General Short, who was more than ever concerned about the 
dangers of sabotage and espionage among the large population of Japanese 

8 Notes on Conf at White House (President and American advisers only), 28 Dec 41, 
WDCSA 334 Mtgs and Confs (1-28-42). See also Morison, Rising Sun in the Pacific, ch. XI. 

9 Ltr, CG Hawaiian Dept to CofS, 12 Dec 41, and other papers in AG 381 (12 Dec 41). 

10 3d Ind, .CG Hawaiian Dept to TAG, 19 Mar 41, and Ltr, TAG to JAG, 25 Nov 40, AG 
370.6 Hawaiian Dept (11-20-40). 



descent on Oahu, particularly if Japanese forces followed up the air attack 
with an invasion as the general thought they might do on the following 
morning. Therefore, he called on' Governor Poindexter and discussed with 
him the need for martial law. After the general left the Governor telephoned 
President Roosevelt, who approved its establishment. During the afternoon 
the Governor signed proclamations (prepared by the Army's Judge Advo- 
cate months before) authorizing the commanding general of the Hawaiian 
Department to exercise all of the Governor's normal powers, suspending 
the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus until further notice, and conferring 
full judicial as well as executive power on the Army in the person of its 
commanding general. The President formally approved these actions on 
9 December. General Short announced them in effect at 3:45 p.m. on the 
7th, and gave actual charge of government under martial law to the Hawai- 
ian Department's Judge Advocate General, Lt. Col. Thomas H. Green. 11 

Under its new authority the Army ordered a complete blackout beginning 
at 6:00 p.m. on 7 December and continuing every night until further notice, 
and for the first few weeks it barred all private cars from the highways and 
maintained a strict curfew after the same hour. At 6:04 p.m. on 7 December 
the police radio broadcast: "From now on nobody allowed out of their 
homes/' 12 Before the day was over the Army had issued orders closing all 
saloons and prohibiting the sale of liquor ; suspending civil courts and insti- 
tuting provost courts in their place; closing all schools for an indefinite 
period; suspending all food sales to permit a complete inventory of island 
food stocks; and rationing gasoline. By and large, at the outset, civilians 
accepted these and other measures with understanding and good spirit. 
Later, both Hawaiians and agencies of the federal government other than 
the War and Navy Departments registered a good many complaints about 
the continuation of martial law; but the Army kept a tight control of civil- 
ians and civilian affairs until after the Battle of Midway in June 1942 
erased any threat of invasion. 13 Beginning in July 1942 the powers of gov- 
ernment were gradually restored to civilian authority, but the suspension 

11 Allen, Hawaii's War Years, pp. 35-36, 79-80; Rad, CG Hawaiian Dept to JAG } 11 Dec 41, 
AG 381 (11-27-41) Gen. 

12 Log of Honolulu Police Radio Broadcasts, 7-8 Dec 41, in USAFMIDPAC Hist, Bulky File, 
backing papers to pt. I, ch. 3. 

13 Temporarily, with the establishment of unity of command on 17 Dec 1941 (see below), 
the Navy acquired control of the military governorship and its machinery. See Testimony of 
General Short before Roberts Commission, 23 Dec 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 22, p. 90. A 
month later, and apparently after President Roosevelt made it clear that he intended control to 
remain with the Army, the commanding general was again in full charge; and to avoid further 
confusion he set up a separate organization for military government that was exempt from the 
Navy's over-all command of tactical forces. 



of habeas corpus and some degree of martial law continued in effect until 
24 October 1944. 14 

The institution and maintenance of martial law in Hawaii clearly had 
as a major if not central purpose the control of the large minority of the 
population that was of Japanese descent, American citizens as well as aliens. 
Immediately after the enemy attack there were a host of rumors and reports 
of sabotage and other subversive activity by residents of Oahu. The most 
careful investigation by the Army and other federal agencies failed to find 
any support for these allegations. Before the attack there had been espionage, 
that is, an extensive collection of military information, by the Japanese con- 
sular staff, and espionage of sorts by one other person, a German national 
named Otto Kuehn. On the other hand, it is highly unlikely that anyone on 
the consular staff knew of the impending attack. During and after the Pearl 
Harbor raid, and for the remainder of the war period, no sabotage, espionage, 
or any other sort of subversive activity is known to have occurred in Hawaii. 
But there were many who credited this record to the close controls that 
martial law allowed, and the services were especially anxious to keep it in 
effect after the early drive for a mass evacuation of Japanese residents from 
Oahu petered out. 15 

The inventory of food ordered by the Army on 7 December reflected a 
long-standing concern with the problem of feeding Oahu's civilian popula- 
tion in an emergency. With the island's agriculture devoted almost exclusively 
to pineapples and sugar, most foodstuffs had to be imported from the main- 
land. The Army's prewar plans and tentative moves toward encouraging 
the production of other foods on an experimental and educational scale, 
and toward stocking seed, had been ineffective. Another plan for stocking 
nonperishable foods for emergency use received the blessing of the War 
Department but no apppropriations from Congress. 16 When war came Oahu 
had about a normal supply of food on hand for its 250,000 civilians, and no 
means of increasing local production significantly. The inventory disclosed a 
37-day supply of most staples, but serious shortages of potatoes, rice, and 
onions. To maintain this supply and feed Army forces would require prompt 
shipment and a continuing flow of about 32,000 tons of food a month from 

14 Notes on WD War Council Mtgs, 13 Jul, 21 Oct, 16 Dec 42. Ltr, SW to Atty Gen Biddle, 
2 Nov 43, OPD 370.5 Hawaiian Dept/8; Allen, Hawaii's War Years, p. 176. For a detailed account 
of the organization and operation of martial law in Hawaii during World War II, see 
USAFMIDPAC History, Part VIII, Civil Affairs and Military Government. 

15 Allen, Hawaii's War Years, pp. 47ff; Rad, CG Hawaiian Dept to TAG, 2 Jan 42, AG 381 
(11-27-41) sec. 1 ; WDC Interoffice Memo, 16 Mar 42, WDC 381 vol. II/4. 

16 Memo, Acting ACofS WPD for CofS, 7 Apr 41, and other papers in WPD 3915. 



the mainland. In addition, General Short asked the War Department to 
arrange for a six-month emergency reserve of 48,000 tons of food, and he 
placed orders with the division engineer in San Francisco for 40,000 tons of 
seed, insecticides, fertilizer, and farm implements in order to boost local food 
production. 17 

Filling these orders on the mainland was no problem, but in the first 
few weeks after the attack the presence of Japanese submarines and a critical 
shortage of shipping made the food outlook an alarming one. Congress 
hastily approved a revolving fund of $35,000,000 to finance shipments, and 
the first emergency cargo of food began to load in San Francisco on 20 De- 
cember. By mid- February 1942 the food situation was sufficiently in hand to 
permit the War Department to turn over responsibility for supplying civilian 
needs to the Department of Agriculture, and by June there was an ample 
supply of food on hand. The effort to stimulate the production of food crops 
locally met with indifferent success, partly because the federal government 
decided that maximum production of sugar and pineapples was more im- 
portant to the war effort. 18 

Immediately after the Japanese attack, the Army requested authority 
to evacuate the families of servicemen to the mainland at government ex- 
pense, and this evacuation was broadened to include other civilian women 
and children who wanted to go as well as tourists stranded in Hawaii when 
the war started. Although the primary consideration for evacuation was the 
exposed position of Oahu, it also alleviated the housing shortage and left 
fewer mouths to feed. By 1 March 1942 some 10,000 had left, and 20,000 
more followed before the end of the year. An incidental but very significant 
result of this evacuation was that it helped block the proposed mass evacu- 
ation of residents of Japanese descent to the mainland. 19 

Under martial law the Army could and did impose a strict censorship on 
all information media in Hawaii and to all civilian letters and messages sent 
from Hawaii after 7 December. The latter measure prevented the enemy 
from finding out about the weaknesses as well as the strengths of island 
defenses. On 8 December the War Department authorized censorship of all 
communications to and from personnel under military control outside the 
United States, and the Hawaiian Department was in a position to take full 

17 Rad, CG Hawaiian Dept to TAG, 14 Dec 41, OPD Exec S, bk. 1. 

18 Allen, Hawaii's War Years, pp. 151-54; Memo, ASGS for CofS, 19 Feb 42, in OCS Conf, 
binder 33. 

19 Tel Conv, CofS Hawaiian Dept with ASGS WD, 8 Dec 41, OPD 381 Hawaiian Dept/55; 
paraphrase of Navy Rad, 1 Mar 42, AG 370,5 (n-6-41) sec. 2; Allen, Hawaii's War Years, 
pp. 107-09. 


advantage of this authority. In addition to postal censorship, radio stations 
came under Army control on 8 December, and English language newspapers 
were censored beginning on 9 December. Three days later the Army sus- 
pended the publication of foreign language newspapers and of "weekly 
labor and communistic papers and other uncertain publications." 20 Although 
the Army gave up its direct control of civilian censorship to the federal Office 
of Censorship in February 1942, thereafter throughout the war the Army and 
Navy continued to exert a much closer indirect control of information than 
existed on the mainland. 21 

As soon as the air attack was over, the Hawaiian Department plunged 
into a reconstruction and new construction effort of unprecedented scale and 
pace. General Short and his District Engineer, Lt. Col. Theodore Wyman, 
Jr., took full advantage of a War Department authorization of 9 December 
to incur obligations for any purpose to meet urgent requirements. 22 On 10 
December the general reported that his engineer officer had ''all the contrac- 
tors in town working" and doing "marvelous work.'* The repair and expan- 
sion of air fields had top priority, and to get the work done quickly the dis- 
trict engineer commandeered civilian stocks of construction material and 
equipment, absorbed the quartermaster construction organization, ordered 
building equipment from the mainland in such quantities that it could not 
be delivered for many months to come, and (by 23 December) employed 
a civilian working force of 20,000 men. 23 Unfortunately for Colonel Wy- 
man, in numerous instances he neglected to maintain the "record of over- 
obligations so incurred" which the authorization of 9 December had required. 
However effective he was in getting the repair job done and new construction 
under way, his failure to keep accounts and his high-handed tactics led to 
his relief in March and the consolidation of all Army construction activity 
under the department engineer. 21 

The principal immediate change in Hawaii's defense structure came 
about on 17 December 1941, when the top Army and Navy commanders 

20 Rad, CG Hawaiian Dept to TAG, 12 Dec 41, AG 381 (1 1-2 7-41) Gen. 

21 Allen, Hawaii's War Years, pp. 146-48. 

22 Memo, G-4 for TAG, 9 Dec 41, OCS 20188-12. 

23 Tel Conv, Gen Short and DCofS Gen Bryden, 10 Dec 41, WPD Message File 1; Telg, 
Dist Engr San Francisco to CofEngrs, 24 Dec 41, WPD 1928-45. 

24 App. 1 of Army Pearl Harbor Bd Rpt, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 39, especially pp. 207-10; 
Incl to Memo, CG SOS for ACofS OPD, 8 May 42, OPD 333.1 Hawaiian Dept/2. For a detailed 
account of Army construction activity in Hawaii before and after Pearl Harbor, see the forthcoming 
volume by Karl A. Dod, The Corps of Engineers: Operations in the War Against Japan, chs. I 
and VIII, to be published in the UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II series. The 
Navy's construction work is described in Bureau of Yards and Docks, Building the Navy's Bases 
in World War II (Washington, 1947), vol. II, ch. 22. 



were replaced and all Army forces in the Hawaiian area were put under 
command of the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet. President Roosevelt 
ordered the replacements after he read Secretary Knox's report on what had 
happened. General Short's successor was Lt. Gen. Delos C Emmons, an 
Air Corps officer, and he reached Hawaii in time to take over the Army 
command on 17 December. Admiral Kimmel's replacement was to be Admiral 
Chester W. Nimitz, but for the two weeks before he took over on 31 
December unity of command was exercised by the acting fleet commander, 
Admiral Pye. General Emmons and Admiral Pye got together immediately, 
and five days after his arrival the general could report to General Marshall: 
"Unity of command here is essential, is working well, and will so continue/' 25 
Although subsequently much criticism arose over the lack of a united 
command and over effective interservice co-operation in Hawaii before Pearl 
Harbor, the establishment of unity of command there was immediately 
inspired by similar action directed by the President on 12 December for 
the Panama Coastal Frontier. In any event General Marshall had long be- 
lieved that Hawaii should be under Navy command, whenever the major 
portion of the Pacific Fleet was present or was using Pearl Harbor as its 
major base; and on 16 December he took the initiative in proposing to 
Admiral Stark that all Army forces in the Hawaiian Coastal Frontier be 
put under naval command, and with no strings attached. 26 In practice, this 
meant that henceforth during the war the Army kept responsibility for the 
administration and discipline of its forces in the Hawaiian area, but the 
Navy commanded their operations except (after the first month) those 
associated with military government. The organization worked out by the 
Navy put all defense forces specifically allocated to the coastal frontier (the 
major islands and adjacent sea areas within a 20-mile limit) under Army 
command, and all defense forces allotted to the Hawaiian Sea Frontier 
(extending outward from the islands for 500 miles) under Navy command. 
Under this arrangement Army pursuit aviation and the other elements of 
the interceptor system remained under Army control, but Army heavy bom- 
bardment planes were put under the Navy's sea frontier command. From the 
Army's viewpoint, this division of command over Army air units was a step 
in the wrong direction; but the efforts of the Hawaiian Air Force (Seventh 
Air Force from March 1942 onward) to recover operational control of its 
heavy bombers were unsuccessful. Except for the heavy bomber units, the 

25 Telg, Gen Emmons to CofS, 22 Dec 41, AG 381 (12-17-41). 

26 Stimson Diary, entry of 12 Dec 41; Memo, CofS for CNO, 16 Dec 41, and other papers in 
WPD 2917-38. 



actual control of Army forces in Hawaii continued to be exercised by the 
Hawaiian Department and successor commands, under missions assigned 
by the Navy. There would undoubtedly have been a closer- integration of 
command if the local Army and Navy commanders had complied with a 
Washington order of 19 December 1941 to establish a joint command post; 
but it took them a year to agree on its location, and after another year spent 
in construction they agreed that a joint command post was no longer needed. 
The separate Army and Navy command headquarters continued to co- 
ordinate their work through liaison officers, as they had done before Pearl 
Harbor, albeit more effectively. Nothing like a unified force evolved in 
Hawaii, and indeed for the first few months there was much rivalry and 
friction between the ^services. But at the top General Emmons and Admiral 
Nimitz worked in close accord from the beginning, and by May 1942, when 
the enemy again threatened in force, the Hawaiian defense forces were fairly 
joined if not united. 27 

The most obvious joint enterprise of the Army and Navy in the period 
immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack was the conduct of long-range 
reconnaissance. The improvised and unsuccessful attempts of 7 December 
to locate the Japanese Striking Force were succeeded as rapidly as possible 
by an organized daily search under the command of the Navy's Patrol Wing 
Two using as many Army and Navy planes as could be made available, to a 
distance of 700 nautical miles in all directions. To make this patrol possible 
the Navy transferred three squadrons of reconnaissance craft from the Atlan- 
tic as quickly as it could. The Navy's reconnaissance plan that became effective 
during December called for a daily search by 46 planes, but in practice only 
37 were normally used — 12 B-i7*s and 25 Navy PBY's. The Army managed 
to hold back 18 of its heavy bombers as a striking force ready for action on 
30-minute notice. The reconnaissance, though far superior to anything at- 
tempted before Pearl Harbor, was admittedly a good deal less than perfect — 
low visibility in the patrolled lanes could cut its effectiveness to near zero, 
and about one-fifth of the circle surrounding the islands had to be left vir- 
tually unpatrolled each day. To make the patrol fully effective would not 
only require a good many more planes but also radar to eliminate the hazards 
of visual observation. 28 

27 The establishment and workings of unity of command are described at length though not 
completely in USAFMIDPAC History, pt IV, Joint Army-Navy Action, pp. 794ft. 

28 Testimony before Roberts Commission of Adm Bellinger, 31 Dec 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, 
pt. 22, p. 566, and of Brig Gen Clarence L. Tinker, 8 Jan 42, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 23, 
pp. 1027-28; Memo, CINCPAC to COMINCH, 7 Jan 42, copy in WPD 3444-25. 



The Japanese were still around during December 1941, but not on carriers. 
They kept a group of about nine submarines in the vicinity of Hawaii until 
mid January, to do what damage they could. As commerce destroyers Japanese 
submarines in Hawaiian waters proved as ineffective as they did on the west 
coast. 29 Another reason for their remaining was to find out just how much 
damage had been done to the American Navy in Pearl Harbor. Fliers return- 
ing to the carriers on 7 December had reported as best they could on what they 
had seen and photographed through flame and smoke, but the Japanese 
wanted a better picture. To get one, a plane launched from submarine 1-j 
flew over Pearl Harbor at dawn on 18 December. The next day a Japanese 
Navy communique announced that 8 battleships, 4 cruisers, and 2 destroyers 
had been sunk or heavily damaged, and lesser damage had been done to 
another battleship and 4 more cruisers. The communique also claimed 450 
planes destroyed on the ground and 14 shot down — a claim more closely 
related to enemy prewar overestimates of Hawaiian air strength than to the 
damage actually done,* bad as it was. 30 Apparently neither the 18 December 
flight nor a similar one during the night of 6-7 January was detected. 31 

Before December was over Japanese submarines had brought war home 
to the outer islands, though in almost innocuous fashion. Just before dusk 
on 15 December a submarine lobbed about ten shells into the harbor area 
of Kahului on Maui, and three that hit a pineapple cannery caused about 
$700 worth of damage. During the night of 30-31 December, submarines 
engaged in similar and nearly simultaneous shellings of Hilo on Hawaii, 
Nawiliwili on Kauai, and again on Kahului. At the last-named point Army 
coast artillery guns returned the fire. Damage at all three points was slight, 
and no one was hurt. The principal result of these shellings was to stir up 
the war consciousness of all the Hawaiian Islands. 32 

The Question of Japanese Evacuation 

Simultaneously with planning for a mass evacuation of Japanese resi- 
dents from the west coast of the United States, Army authorities in Hawaii 
and Washington proposed a similar mass evacuation from Hawaii, as a 

29 See |ch, IV | above. 

30 Japanese Monographs io2;io8; General Headquarters Supreme Commander for the Allied 
Powers, Japan, Japanese Operations in the Southwest Pacific Area (Southwest Pacific Series, vol. 
II), National Archives and Records Service, p. 70 (hereafter cited as Far East History). 

31 The latter flight is recorded in List of Sub-Carried Plane Strikes, prepared by die Japanese 
Navy, in Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 13, pp. 650-51. 

32 Rads, CG Hawaiian Dept to TAG, 16 and 31 Dec 41, and 1 Jan 42, all in AG 381 
( 1 1-27-41) Gen; Japanese Monograph 108; Allen, Hawaii's War Years, p. 59. 



measure of defense. In Hawaii a prewar allocation of responsibility for con- 
trolling enemy aliens in the event of war, the establishment of martial law, 
and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus gave the Army almost plen- 
ary authority over both citizens and aliens. There were, therefore, no legal 
barriers to prevent the Army from handling the large Japanese minority in 
the islands as it wished, but there were other factors — among them the 
Hawaiian climate of racial tolerance, the fact that most of the pressure for 
mass evacuation came from outside the Army, and the vital position of the 
Japanese in the civilian labor force — which operated as powerful checks on 
proposals to move a large part of the Japanese population from Oahu to 
another island or the mainland. 33 

In prewar preparations for dealing with the Japanese problem, the mili- 
tary services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had used two tactics in 
Hawaii. As in the continental United States, they had compiled lists of 
individual aliens who they assumed might be disloyal in wartime. They had 
also launched a campaign in the summer of 1941 to assure the Japanese 
population that if it remained loyal to the United States in a war with 
Japan it would be accorded fair treatment. On 21 December General 
Emmons publicly renewed this pledge — after careful investigation had dis- 
closed that there had been no sabotage and (with one exception) no other 
hostile act committed by either alien or citizen Japanese either during or 
after the Pearl Harbor Attack. 34 

When General Emmons made this pledge he of course did not know that 
two days before it had been decided at a Cabinet meeting in Washington 
that all Japanese aliens in the Hawaiian Islands were to be interned by the 
Army on other islands than Oahu. 35 Thereafter the most ardent official 
advocate of restrictive action of this sort was Secretary of the Navy Frank 
Knox. Specifically at his request, the War Department on 10 January 1942 
asked the Hawaiian commander whether it would be practicable to move the 
Japanese population from Oahu to some other island. General Emmons 

33 The general position of the Japanese in Hawaii before and during the war is discussed in 
detail in Albert W. Lind, Hawaii's Japanese: An Experiment in Democracy (Princeton: Princeton 
University Press, 1946) (hereafter cited as Hawaii's Japanese); Allen, Hawaii's War Years; 
Joseph Barber, Jr., Hawaii: Restless Rampart (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1941) ; 
and John A. Rademaker, These Are Americans: The Japanese Americans in Hawaii in World 
War II (Palo Alto, Calif.: Pacific Books, 1951) (hereafter cited as Rademaker, These Are 
Americans) . 

3 *Telg> G-2 GHQ to CG WDC, 19 Dec 41, WDC-CAD 014.31; Honolulu Advertiser, Dec. 
22, 1941, pp. i, 6; Lind, Hawaii's Japanese, pp. 70-71; Allen, Hawaii's War Years, pp. 83-84. 
The exception was the Niihau incident, mentioned in Chapter VII above. 

35 Stimson Diary, entries of 19 and 20 Dec 41. 



answered that such a move would be highly dangerous and impractical. It 
would require a large amount of additional construction and building ma- 
terials at a time when construction and shipping facilities were already taxed 
to their utmost; it would require many additional troops to guard the island 
at a time when the Hawaiian garrison had less than half the troops needed 
for missions already assigned; and it would gravely disrupt the economy of 
Oahu which, General Emmons estimated, had a Japanese population of 
118,000 (20,000 aliens and 98,000 citizens) that provided the bulk of the 
island's skilled labor. Although General Emmons expressed little faith in 
the loyalty of the majority of the Japanese population in the event of an 
invasion, he believed the Japanese indispensable unless they could be re- 
placed by an equivalent labor force from the mainland. The general strongly 
recommended that, if the War Department decided that any or all of the 
Japanese had to be evacuated, they be moved to the continental United 
States. 36 

The report of the Roberts Commission and the mounting west coast 
agitation against the Japanese led to another Cabinet discussion on 30 Janu- 
ary about the "dangerous" Hawaiian Japanese and about the many Army 
troops of Japanese descent still in service in Hawaii. After the meeting 
Secretary Stimson told General Marshall of his concern over the situation, 
and the Chief of Staff instructed the War Plans Division to look into the 
matter and make recommendations. 37 When General Emmons was again 
asked for his views, he recommended as "desirable" the evacuation to the 
mainland of as many Japanese aliens and citizens as possible at the earliest 
practicable date but stated that he did not want to evacuate more than a few 
hundred internees until after some 20,000 Caucasian women and children 
had been transported to the mainland. He also assured the War Department 
that "if an assault were made on Oahu before transfer of sufficient number of 
Nipponese, we have ready plans to immobilize the Japanese." 38 In response 
to further questioning, the Hawaiian commander stated that, while all Jap- 
anese against whom there were specific grounds for suspicion were already 
in custody, in order to make certain that no Japanese of potential disloyalty 
remained in Hawaii it would probably be necessary to evacuate 100,000 of 

36 Rad, TAG to CG Hawaiian Dept, 10 Jan 42; Rad, Gen Emmons to TAG, 11 Jan 42. 
Both in AG 014. 311 (1-13-41), sec. 11. 

37 Stimson Diary, entry of 30 Jan 42 ; Memo, WPD for CofS, 1 Feb 42, and accompanying 
Memos of 30 and 31 Jan, AG 014.311 (1-13-41), sec. 11. 

3g Rad, TAG to CG Hawaiian Dept, 2 Feb 42, Rad, CG Hawaiian Dept to TAG, 4 Feb 42. 
Both in WPD 4250-5. 



them. 39 On the same day that he made this estimate, General Emmons was 
somewhat startled to receive a War Department order directing him to 
suspend all Japanese civilians employed by the Army. He again pointed out 
that the bulk of skilled labor on Oahu was of Japanese descent and could 
not possibly be replaced by civilians or soldiers already there. "The Japanese 
question," he added, was both "delicate and dangerous" and it "should be 
handled by those in direct contact with the situation." The War Department 
promptly canceled its order, but proceeded with its evacuation planning. 40 
On 14 February the War Plans Division prepared a recommendation that 
the Hawaiian commander "be authorized to evacuate all enemy aliens and 
all citizens of Japanese extraction selected by him with their families, subject 
to the availability of shipping and facilities for their internment or surveil- 
lance on the mainland," and subject to the prior evacuation of 20,000 
"women and children other than Japanese" as General Emmons had re- 
quested. 41 While this recommendation was still being circulated among 
Army staff agencies for comment, the Navy took the Hawaiian Japanese 
question before both the newly constituted Joint Chiefs of Staff and Presi- 
dent Roosevelt. The President responded to Secretary Knox as follows: 

Like you, I have long felt that most of the Japanese should be removed from Oahu 
to one of the other Islands. This involves much planning, much temporary construction 
and careful supervision of them when they get to the new location. 

I do not worry about the constitutional question — first, because of my recent order 
[Executive Order 9066} and, second, because Hawaii is under martial law. The whole 
matter is one of immediate and present war emergency. 

I think you and Stimson can agree and then go ahead and do it as a military 
project. 42 

The War Plans Division, hurriedly revising its study to take into account the 
President's declared position, held with General Emmons that a concentra- 
tion of the Oahu Japanese on one of the outlying islands was wholly im- 
practicable and concluded by reiterating the recommendation it had made in 
preliminary form a fortnight earlier. Both General Marshall and Secretary 
Stimson approved the War Plans proposal, which contemplated the eventual 
transfer of about 100,000 Japanese aliens and citizens from Hawaii to the 
mainland for internment or resettlement, and Secretary Stimson carried a 

39 Rad, TAG to CG Hawaiian Dept. 8 Feb 42; Rad, CG Hawaiian Dept to TAG, 9 Feb 42. 
Both in WPD 4250-5. 

40 Rad, TAG to CG Hawaiian Dept, 9 Feb 42; Rad, TAG to CG Hawaiian Dept, 12 Feb 42; 
Rad, CG Hawaiian Dept to TAG, 10 Feb 42. All in WPD 4072-9. 

41 Memo, WPD for CofS, 14 Feb 42, WPD 4250-5. 

42 Memo, President Roosevelt for SN, 26 Feb 42, OPD 370.05 Hawaii (3-4-42). 



brief of the Army's plan to a Cabinet meeting on 27 February. 43 Mr. Stimson 
recorded the Cabinet discussions as follows: 

Removal of Japs from Oahu. Knox brought this up and urged vigorously the 
remedy of the situation out there. I told them that the Army concurred in this but that 
for the reasons given in Marshall's memorandum [that is, the latest War Plans recom- 
mendation] it would probably be necessary to send them to the United States. The 
President was staggered by this and was rather plainly in favor of placing them on the 
Island of Malikou [Molokai] in a big cantonment guarded by the Army. This was the 
plan urged by Knox. I pointed out the difficulties of this so far as I could. The matter 
was left unsettled. 44 

After considering the conflicting views of the Army on the one hand and 
of President Roosevelt and Secretary Knox on the other, the Joint Chiefs of 
Staff decided that the concentration of the Hawaiian Japanese on an island 
such as Molokai was impracticable, and they unanimously recommended a 
large-scale evacuation of Japanese aliens and citizens to the mainland, to 
begin with "the most dangerous group" of 20,000 persons as soon as possi- 
ble. 45 As presented by Admiral Stark to the President, the recommendation 
read: 'That such Japanese (either U.S. citizens or aliens) as are considered 
by appropriate authority in the Hawaiian Islands to constitute a source of 
danger be transported to the U.S. mainland and placed under guard in con- 
centration camps." 46 The President approved this recommendation on 13 
March 1942, "on the basis of an explanation made to him which pointed out 
that evacuation would necessarily be a slow process and that what was in- 
tended, first, was to get rid of about 20,000 potentially dangerous Japanese." 47 

The principal obstacle to the execution of this recommendation was the 
growing disinclination of Army officials to carry it out. On 27 March, after 
the Hawaiian commander had been formally notified about the evacuation 
plan that the President had approved and after a visit of Assistant Secretary 
of War McCloy to Hawaii, General Emmons made a "present estimate" of 
1,550 as the number of dangerous Japanese aliens and citizens that should be 
evacuated and interned on the mainland, although he added that future cir- 
cumstances might make it "advisable to raise this estimate to much larger 
figures." 48 During his trip Mr. McCloy had learned that Army and Navy offi- 

43 Memo, WPD for CofS, 27 Feb 42, annotations thereon, and accompanying notes, WPD 

44 SW Notes after Cabinet Mtg, 27 Feb 42, WDCSA 334 Mtgs and Confs. 

45 Notes, JCS Mtg, 9 Mar 42, and Addendum, 11 Mar 42, to JCS 11, 12 Feb 42, sub; Ha- 
waiian Def Forces, ABC 381 Hawaii (2-12-42). 

46 Ltr, CNO to President Roosevelt, 11 Mar 42 (photostat copy, with pen notations indicat- 
ing President Roosevelt's approval.), PMG 383.01 Hawaii. 

47 Memo, Gen Eisenhower, OPD, for CofS, 27 Mar 42, OPD Exec 8, bk. 4, 

48 Rad, CG Hawaiian Dept to CG SOS, 27 Mar 42, PMG 383.01 Hawaii. 



cials in Hawaii were opposed to any large-scale evacuation to the mainland or 
to one of the outlying islands. The Army and Navy preferred, he reported, "to 
treat the Japanese in Hawaii as citizens of an occupied foreign country." 49 
The Assistant Secretary agreed that the outlying island scheme was completely 
impracticable. He believed a mass evacuation to the mainland almost as im- 
practicable, because of the lack of shipping, the necessity of replacing the 
Japanese labor force, the difficulty of providing enough suitable facilities for 
relocating the Japanese on the mainland, and "the political repercussions on 
the West Coast and in the United States generally to the introduction of 
150,000 more Japanese/' Dispatches in Honolulu newspapers published on 27 
and 28 March quoted Mr. McCoy as stating that a mass evacuation of the 
Japanese from Hawaii was impractical and was not contemplated. By the 
beginning of April 1942, both Mr. McCloy and the Army's Operations Divi- 
sion appear to have assumed that the evacuation would be confined to the 
1,550 "dangerous" Japanese specified in General Emmons* latest recom- 
mendation. 50 

This might very well have been the answer to the question of Hawaiian 
evacuation if it had not been for the continued concern of the Secretary of the 
Navy and the President for the security of Oahu. On 20 April Mr. Knox re- 
newed his plea for "taking all of the Japs out of Oahu and putting them in 
a concentration camp on some other island"; and the President himself con- 
tinued to favor the same solution. 51 In a conference of the War and Navy 
Secretaries and their military advisers on 28 April, all present — except Mr. 
Knox — agreed that it was impracticable to move the Oahu Japanese to an- 
other island, and that instead General Emmons should be authorized to 
evacuate ten or fifteen thousand adult male Japanese to the mainland. This 
idea had been suggested much earlier by Admiral Bloch, the commandant of 
the Fourteenth Naval District, who attended the meeting, and who was as 
strongly opposed as General Emmons to the outlying island proposal. 52 Presi- 
dent Roosevelt, nevertheless, continued during May to favor a general 
Japanese evacuation from Oahu to one of the smaller Hawaiian islands and 
in consequence Mr. McCloy advised General Emmons that he had better work 

49 Notes, War Council Mtg, 23 Mar 42, SW Conf, binder 2. 

50 Memo, Mr. McCloy for Gen Eisenhower, 28 Mar 42; Memo, OPD for ASW, 3 Apr 42. 
Both in WPD 4250-5. Honolulu Advertiser, Mar. 28, 1942, p. 3; Lind, Hawaii's Japanese, 
pp. 78-79, 108-09. 

51 Memo, SN for President Roosevelt, 20 Apr 42; Memo, President Roosevelt for SN, 23 
Apr 42. Both in ASW 014. 311 Hawaii. SW Notes after Cabinet Mtg, 24 Apr 42, WDCSA 334 
Mtgs and Confs. 

52 Two OPD Memos for Red, 28 Apr and 27 Jun 42, OPD 370.05 Hawaii (3-4-42) ; Memo, 
SN for SW, 3 Mar 42, WPD 4250-5. 



out some alternative evacuation plan, perhaps similar to that proposed by 
Admiral Bloch, in order to satisfy the President and Mr. Knox. 53 

Before the Hawaiian commander came up with a new general evacuation 
plan, he carried out one type of evacuation that he had proposed much earlier. 
For more than a year the task of guarding the islands had been shared by the 
298th and 299th Infantry Regiments, Hawaiian National Guard units that 
had been called into federal service in 1940. By late 1941 many of their en- 
listed men and some of their officers were of Japanese ancestry. When sufficient 
replacements from the mainland finally arrived in May, the Hawaiian De- 
partment withdrew the Japanese troops from the 298th and 299th Regiments, 
organized them into a provisional battalion, and on 5 June shipped them to 
the mainland. This group of 29 officers and 1,277 enlisted men thereafter be- 
came the 100th Infantry Battalion, which eventually landed on the Salerno 
beachhead in Italy on 22 September 1943. 54 

As for Japanese civilians, General Emmons on 20 June proposed a volun- 
tary movement to the mainland of the families of internees and of individuals 
of low income who were more of a drain than a benefit to the Hawaiian 
economy and war effort. The War Department thereupon arranged with the 
War Relocation Authority to provide relocation facilities for 15,000 
Hawaiian Japanese. The Hawaiian Department, which by 1 July considered 
the position and conduct of the bulk of the Japanese population "highly 
satisfactory/' wanted to evacuate "as soon as practicable" only 5,000, not 
15,000; but the figure of 15,000 was used in a new Joint Chiefs of Staff and 
Presidential directive of 17 July. 55 

In view of the previously approved policy of evacuating military- depend- 
ents and other non-Japanese civilians first, General Emmons was not able to 
present a program for Japanese evacuation in accordance with his new 
directive until early October. His plan then was substantially the one he had 
proposed in June except that evacuation would be compulsory rather than 
voluntary; it proposed to remove initially about 3,000 people who would 

53 SW notes for Cabinet Mtg, i May 42, WDCSA 334 Mtgs and Confs; Ltr, ASW to Gen 
Emmons, 18 May 42, ASW 014.31 1 Hawaii. 

54 Memo, G-i for TAG, 16 Dec 41, OCS 16418-97; Memo, OPD for COMINCH, 29 May 
42, OPD 370.5 Hawaii/n; Rad, CG Hawaiian Dept to WD, 29 May 42; OPD Memo for 
Red, 21 Jun 42. Last two in OPD 320.2 Hawaii/64, 94. OPD Routing Form, 26 Jun 42, OPD 
370.5 Hawaii/13. For details of the military service and gallant combat record of these and 
other Hawaiian troops of Japanese ancestry, see Thomas D. Murphy, Ambassadors in Arms 
(Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1954); Allen, Hawaii's War Years, chs. 16 and 17; 
and Rademaker, These are Americans, ch. 3. 

55 Rad, CG Hawaiian Dept to WD, 20 Jun 42; Rad, WD to CG Hawaiian Dept, 23 Jun 42, 
and related exchanges through 7 Oct 42. All in OPD 370.05 Hawaii (3-4-42). JCS 71, 14 
Jul 42 (as approved by President Roosevelt on 17 July), ABC 381 Hawaii (2-12-42). 



Japanese Children Drilling in American service caps, Hawaii. 

otherwise remain a drain on Hawaii's war resources, rather than "danger- 
ous" Japanese as contemplated in the approved policy. Although the War 
Department continued its planning and arranging for an eventual reception 
of 15,000 Japanese, Army officials in Washington realized that a movement 
of that size was now unlikely. 50 Secretary Knox and the President continued 
to be dissatisfied with the Army's slow progress toward evacuation, 57 but the 
War Department decided that it ought to adhere in practice to the latest 
plan of General Emmons. 

56 Rad, CG Hawaiian Dept to WD, 2 Oct 42, AG 370.05 (11-6-41), sec. 2; various papers, 
dated 7-12 Oct 42, OPD 370.05 Hawaii (3-4-42) ; Ltr, Gen Emmons to SW, 2 Nov 42, ASW 
014. 311. 

57 Ltr, SN to President Roosevelt, 17 Oct 42; Memo, President Roosevelt for SW and CofS, 
2 Nov 42. Both in WDCSA 42-43 Hawaii. 



In accordance with this plan about 1,000 Hawaiian Japanese — most of 
them citizens — were moved to the mainland between November 1942 and 
March 1943. By the latter month everyone had agreed that this movement 
should cease, and on 2 April 1943 the War Department instructed General 
Emmons to suspend evacuation to the mainland until and unless the number 
of his internees exceeded the capacity of the Hawaiian Department's own 
facilities for internment, which never happened. 58 Before the evacuation 
ended a total of 1,875 Hawaiian residents of Japanese ancestry had been re- 
moved to internment and relocation camps in the continental United States. 59 
When it ended an Army spokesman informed the Honolulu press: "The 
shipping situation and the labor shortage make it a matter of military neces- 
sity to keep most of the people of Japanese blood on the island/ 160 


The initial military reinforcement of Hawaii following the Pearl Harbor 
attack was guided by a lengthy list submitted by General Short on 8 December 
1941, of the troops and equipment most urgently needed for the defense of 
Oahu and by several supplementary lists sent by him during the next few 
days. By 12 December the War Department had arranged to ship from San 
Francisco some 7,000 men, more than 100 crated pursuit ships, 3,000,000 
rounds of the scarce caliber .50 ammunition, more than 8,000 aircraft bombs 
of assorted sizes, and a variety of other munitions. On the evening of 13 
December the Army had 2 fast transports loaded and ready to go, but the 
Navy refused to let them leave without escort. They finally sailed with 3 
slower ships on the 16th, and reached Honolulu five days later — but only a 
fortnight after the Pearl Harbor attack. A second and larger convoy of 11 
ships departed from San Francisco on 27 December and arrived in Hawaiian 
waters on 7 and 8 January 1942. Together these convoys brought about 
15,000 more troops to Oahu, and the unit reinforcements included two regi- 
ments of infantry, one regiment each of field artillery and coast artillery, and 
light tank, signal, and railway artillery battalions. With their arrival the 
strength of the Hawaiian Department was increased to about 58,500 officers 
and enlisted men, and it now had most of the heavy bombardment and pur- 
suit strength allotted a month earlier. Despite a continued serious shortage of 

5S Rad, ASW to CG Hawaiian Dept, 2 Apr 43; Rad, ASW to CG Hawaiian Dept, 15 Apr 43; 
Rad, CG Hawaiian Dept to ASW, 8 Apr 43. All in ASW 014.31 1 Hawaii. 

59 War Relocation Authority, The Evacuated People: A Quantitative Description (Washing- 
ton, 1946), pp. 1S3, 191. 

60 Quoted in Lind, Hawaii's Japanese, p. 79. 



antiaircraft weapons, the second week of January found Oahu generally well 
secured against invasion. 61 

Two arguments won the approval of the War Department during Decem- 
ber of a much larger reinforcement of Hawaii. The Navy contended that the 
sure defense of the Hawaiian area depended primarily on Army air power 
and that the security and effectiveness of that air power required its dispersion 
among the major islands of the Hawaiian group. Secondly, while the im- 
mediate reinforcement of December 1941 might ensure against a direct at- 
tempt by the enemy to invade Oahu, the Japanese had the naval strength to 
cover an invasion of one or more of the almost undefended outer islands. 
From bases on these islands the enemy could attack and possibly starve out 
Oahu. These arguments led to an inquiry to General Short about his plans 
for garrisoning the other islands of the Hawaiian group. As of mid-Decem- 
ber, all he planned to do was to distribute another National Guard infantry 
regiment among them and add to their defenses a few more second-class 
weapons (the best being kept for Oahu) , 62 

When General Emmons assumed command he asked for nearly 50,000 
additional troops, including two infantry square divisions, to garrison the 
outer islands. He also wanted fillers to bring Oahu's units up to war strength 
as soon as possible — the combined strength of the 24th and 25th Divisions 
then being no more than 15,000 men. And he wanted to build up the 
Hawaiian Air Force to a strength of 200 heavy bombardment planes and 325 
pursuit ships. On 23 December General Marshall orally approved the im- 
mediate dispatch of one square division, two more antiaircraft regiments, and 
10,000 additional service troops to Hawaii, and by the end of the month the 
War Department had established an eventual strength of 100,000 ground 
and 16,000 air troops for the Hawaiian Department, exclusive of its distant 
appendages. 63 Other more critical needs in the Pacific delayed the movement 
of the bulk of the approved troop reinforcements, and Army strength in 
Hawaii actually declined during early 1942. But with the arrival of the 27th 
Infantry Division in March and April and its deployment with supporting 
forces among the outer islands, the invasion threat to them really ended, and 
it ended before the enemy again approached the Hawaiian area in force. 

61 The Army records relating to this initial movement of reinforcements to Hawaii are volumi- 
nous; see, among other files, AG 381 (11-27-41), WPD 3444-14, WPD 4622-37, and 43; and 
OPD Exec 4, item 4. See also Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-43, 
pp. 146-49. 

02 Notes on Min, of JB Mtg, 13 Dec 41, in OCMH files; Rad, CG Hawaiian Dept to TAG, 
15 Dec 41, copy in USAFMIDPAC Hist, Bulky File. 

03 Memo, WPD for G-3 and G-4, 24 Dec 41, WPD 3444-20; Memo for Red, WPD, (about 
3 Jan 42), WPD 3444-16. 


Two factors inspired a more formal review and assessment of Hawaiian 
defense needs by the Washington high command during February and March. 
One was the reiterated request of General Emmons, strongly backed by 
Admiral Nimitz, for a much higher heavy bomber strength than Washington 
had allotted. The Navy wanted as many Army heavy bombers as possible 
stationed in the Hawaiian Islands in order to free the fleet for limited offen- 
sive action to the south westward, and it also wanted to be able to draw on a 
reservoir of Army bombers to support its offensives. General Emmons wanted 
enough heavy bombers to maintain a striking force equipped to deal effective- 
ly with an enemy attack by six carriers, this force to be over and above the 
number of heavies needed for continued Army participation in long-range 
reconnaissance. The other factor was the open distrust of a large segment of 
the Hawaiian population of Japanese descent, which, as already related, had 
led to demands in Washington that the Army cleanse the Hawaiian Depart- 
ment of its soldiers of Japanese descent and take other actions to put the 
Japanese population under close control. 64 

These fresh demands led General Marshall to submit the question of the 
strength of Army forces to be established and maintained in Hawaii to the 
Joint Chiefs of Staffs. As this was being done General Emmons was further 
disturbed by the detachment in early February of twelve of his heavy bomb- 
ers for duty in the southern Pacific — and thereafter until late in May his 
bomber command remained at no more than one-third its allotted strength 
in heavies. 05 In Washington the Chief of Naval Operations supported General 
Marshall's contention that the forces already allocated to the Hawaiian De- 
partment would be strong enough, when delivered, to ensure retention of the 
main islands, prevent serious damage by a Japanese raid, and give freedom of 
action to the Pacific Fleet. As a seemingly necessary corollary to this assurance, 
the Joint Chiefs had simultaneously recommended to the President that the 
bulk of the Japanese population of the Hawaiian Islands be evacuated to the 
United States mainland. 00 On 13 March the President approved these rec- 
ommendations, although, as already indicated, the Army was rapidly losing 
interest in a mass evacuation of the Japanese. On the other hand, his approval 
of the planned strengths of Hawaiian ground and air forces constituted the 

64 Memo, WPD for CofS, 6 Feb 42, Navy Memo re Hawaiian Def Force, 16 Feb 42, and other 
papers, in WPD 3444-25; Memo, Gen Marshall for Gen Gerow, 30 Jan 42, AG 014. 311 

65 Rads, TAG to CG Hawaiian Dept. 8 Feb 42, and CG Hawaiian Dept to TAG, 16 Feb 42, 
AG 381 (11-27-41), sees. 2-A, 2-B; Tab I, Memo, Col John L. McKee : OPD, for ACofS OPD, 
26 May 42, sub: Visit to Hawaii and Central Pacific Theater Bases, OPD 333.1 Hawaii. 

GG JCS 11 and Addendum, n Mar 42, and other papers in ABC 381 Hawaii (2—12-42). 



strongest kind of backing for completing the Army reinforcement that had 
been projected. 

The garrison of the Hawaiian Department as approved by the Joint 
Chiefs and the President was to consist of 74,000 ground troops on Oahu, 
13,000 on Hawaii, and 12,800 distributed among five other islands. With 
small additions during March, the authorized strength of the department be- 
came at the beginning of April 106,000 ground and 16,000 air troops, in- 
cluding replacements for all soldiers of Japanese descent; and the department 
reached these strengths before the end of June 1942. The Army air units to 
be retained in the islands for local defense were to contain 96 heavy and 24 
medium and light bombers and 225 pursuit planes, and the Navy was ob- 
ligated to keep 67 patrol planes on hand for long-range and local reconnais- 
sance. Because Army officials in Washington were wary of Navy claims on 
heavy bombers that might be present in Hawaii, it took the impetus of a new 
and grave Japanese threat to get the planned increment of them out to the 
islands; and their number was quickly reduced after the Japanese challenge 
had been met. 67 

After December 1941 the movement of Army reinforcements and sup- 
plies to Hawaii had a lower priority than shipments to Australia and the new 
island bases being developed along the way to it. Only the slower ships were 
used on the Hawaiian run to carry supplies for the Army and the local civilian 
population, and for several months a shortage of them led to a pile-up of 
supplies in San Francisco. In contrast, the Navy got its supplies to Haw T aii 
during the first months of the war with little or no difficulty. 68 The War De- 
partment had arranged for requisitions for military and civilian supplies sub- 
mitted by the Hawaiian Department to be filled by the Army's San Francisco 
Port of Embarkation, in accordance with priorities established by General 
Emmons. By April this system was working smoothly, and the backlog of 
Army supplies awaiting shipment in San Francisco had been substantially 
reduced. After March General Emmons was more concerned about the con- 
tinued shortage of civilian labor in Hawaii, including dock workers, than 
about the shipping shortage. In any event his early exasperation over shipping 
difficulties had already dissolved when the War Production Board in Wash- 
ington circulated a colorful but not very well informed report on the situa- 
tion. For the record, in a note to Admiral Nimitz, General Emmons cate- 

67 Rad, CofS to CG Hawaiian Dept, 1 Apr 42, OPD 452.1 Hawaii/26; OPD Weekly Status 
Map, Mar-June 42, OPD Exec file. 

08 Navy Memo for CofS CINCPAC, 18 Apr 42, copy in USAFMIDPAC History, Bulky File, 
reviews both Army and Navy shipping and supply systems and problems with clarity. 



gorically denied most of the charges contained in this report, and he assured 
both the admiral and the War Department that he was well satisfied with the 
way his supply problems were being solved. 69 

When Assistant Secretary of War McCloy visited Oahu in mid-March he 
found its Army defenses generally strong and well laid out. He was parti- 
cularly impressed by the intensive improvement of Army airfields since the 
Pearl Harbor attack. But he noted that the Army clearly lacked enough bomb- 
ers to constitute an effective striking force against enemy carriers and that the 
long-range reconnaissance patrol was far from being air tight. In Mr. Mc- 
Cloy's judgment the Pearl Harbor-Honolulu area still presented a "terribly 
congested" and "most vulnerable" target. 70 

The Japanese made a very ineffectual swipe at this target during the early 
morning of 4 March 1942. Two Japanese flying boats starting from Jaluit 
Island in the Marshalls had refueled in a rendezvous with three submarines 
at French Frigate Shoals and then flown on to Oahu, about 500 miles to the 
southeast. Army radar spotted them 90 miles off Kauai; and the Interceptor 
Command sent up four pursuit planes to find them, but without success be- 
cause of their high altitude and a heavy overcast. One Japanese plane merely 
skirted the west coast of Oahu. The other followed the north coast to Kane- 
ohe, then turned south and at 2:15 a.m. dropped four 500-pound bombs 
which landed in woods on the slopes of Mount Tantalus, about 2 miles from 
downtown Honolulu. They caused no casualties, and no damage other than a 
few broken window panes. Because of the high altitude of the planes and the 
overcast, antiaircraft guns did not fire, and no general air raid alarm was 
sounded. Both planes returned to their starting point safely; but as a "night 
reconnaissance" of Pearl Harbor the flight was a failure, and a second 'K 
Operation," as the Japanese called the feat, scheduled for 7 March, was 
canceled. Hawaiian authorities deduced that the Japanese planes must have 
staged through French Frigate Shoals, and the Navy thereupon took steps to 
deny them to enemy submarines. 71 

69 Memo, William H. Husted for E. A. Locke, Jr., 4 Mar 42, Pers Ltr, Gen Emmons to Lt Gen 
Brehon B. Somervell, 21 Mar 42, Ltr, Gen Emmons to Adm Nimitz, 25 Mar 42. and other papers 
in USAFMIDPAC Hist, Bulky File. On Hawaiian supply problems in the early months of the 
war, see also, in this series, Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-43, pp. 
161-65; and Joseph Bykofsky and Harold Larson, The Transportation Corps; Operations Overseas 
(Washington, 1957), pp. 491-94. 

70 Notes, War Council Mtg, 23 Mar 42, in SW Conf, Binder 2 ; Memo, ASW McCloy for SW, 
1 Apr 42, WDCSA 42-43 Hawaii. 

71 Memo and Incls, CG Hawaiian Dept to TAG, 14 Mar 42, AG 381 (3-14-42) ; Honolulu 
Advertiser, March 4 and 5, 1942; Japanese Monograph 102, p. 18; AAF Monograph 41, Oper- 
ational Hist of the Seventh Air Force, p. 12 ; Morison, Coral Sea, Midway, and Submarine Actions. 
p. 69. 



A right blackout had helped Army defenders pass the test of an isolated 
enemy air operation, but how well they were now prepared to defend Oahu 
against a large-scale carrier-based attack remained an unanswered question. 
The elements of the interceptor system were functioning day and night, and 
as efficiently as they could with the equipment at hand. American planes in 
Hawaii still lacked equipment for their ready identification as friendly, and 
the bulk of the pursuit planes, though modern P-40's, still could probably 
not have climbed rapidly enough after radar warning to fend off a high-level 
bombing attack. The antiaircraft situation was much better than at the time 
of Pearl Harbor, but antiaircraft guns could only make a heavy air raid more 
costly to the enemy, not stop it. The dispersal, bunkering, and camouflaging 
of Army aircraft made them relatively immune to heavy loss, but the naval 
base and Honolulu could not be hidden. As earlier, the Army was best pre- 
pared to fight off an invasion of Oahu. Combat troops were dug in in battle 
positions all over the island, and a Washington inspection at the end of April 
found the morale of the troops "excellent," and that "all understood that this 
is a real war/' 72 


A month later real war again approached the Hawaiian Islands in the 
shape of a formidable Japanese fleet bent on capturing Midway and drawing 
out the Pacific Fleet for a decisive engagement. The Japanese were executing 
the second step of the "second phase" operations projected in their Combined 
Fleet's operational order of 5 November 1941 — the order that had set in mo- 
tion the Pearl Harbor attack and the conquest of the Philippines, southeast 
Asia, and Indonesia. Winning their first round of victories in only half the 
calculated time, the Japanese in mid-January had begun planning what to do 
next. The first proposal, advanced by the chief of staff of the Combined Fleet, 
was for an invasion of the main Hawaiian Islands, but by early February 
caution had modified it into a plan for occupying strategic points in the outer 
Aleutians, Midway Island, and points on the Hawaii-Australia line of com- 
munication. The Midway operation in particular was expected to force a fleet 
engagement, and, if victorious, the Japanese would then have undisputed 
control of the central and western Pacific. 73 

72 Par 9, Incl to Memo, CG SOS for ACofS OPD, 8 May 42, OPD 333.1 Hawaiian Dept/i. 

73 This paragraph and the two following are based on: Morison, Coral Sea. Ai/duay and Sub- 
marine Actions, ch. VI; Japanese Monographs 93, Midway Operations, May-June 1942; 45, 
History of Imperial General Headquarters, Army Section (1941-1945) ; 46, Aleutians Operations 
Record, June 1942-July 1943; 88, Aleutian Naval Operations, Mar 1942 -Feb 1943; no; Far East 
History, II, pp. 124-25; Fuchida and Okumiya, AMdtvay, chs. I-VII. 


By 1 6 April 1942 the Japanese high command had agreed that the Mid- 
way-Aleutian occupations should take place early in June and that the main 
body of the Combined Fleet would cover the Midway operation and be in a 
position for the anticipated fleet action. The spearhead of the Japanese Fleet 
was to be a striking force built around four fast carriers. Continuing argu- 
ments for delay in order to make more adequate preparations for the new 
offensive were silenced by the Halsey-Doolittle air raid on Japan on 18 April. 
A Combined Fleet order of 5 May set the new offensive in motion, and the 
striking force began to move out of its home waters on 26 May. The invasion 
of Midway was to take place on 7 June. 74 

The Japanese reckoned that their fleet could reach the vicinity of Midway 
without being discovered, that they could capture Midway before the Pacific 
Fleet would swing into action, and that they would then have to deal with 
only two (though possibly three) American carriers. One of the Pacific 
Fleet's four carriers was tied up in San Diego until 1 June, but the Navy 
managed to rush the other three from the southern Pacific to Pearl Harbor 
and to repair the wounds that one of them had sustained in the Battle of the 
Coral Sea (7-8 May) in time for it to join in the coming battle. Undetected 
by the Japanese, the American carriers and their escorts left Pearl Harbor on 
30 and 31 May to take up a waiting position on the flank of the approaching 
Japanese armada. To check on American fleet positions and movements, the 
enemy had sent out submarines and made preparations to reconnoiter Pearl 
Harbor by air. For the latter purpose the Japanese tried to execute a new "K 
Operation" similar to the one carried out three months earlier. It was frus- 
trated when Japanese submarines found French Frigate Shoals occupied and 
actively patrolled by the United States Navy. Reconnaissance of mid-Pacific 
waters by submarine also failed, so that as the Japanese Fleet approached 
Midway it had no knowledge of where the units of the Pacific Fleet were. 

The Americans, on the other hand, knew w r ell in advance almost precisely 
what the Japanese were up to, thanks to their prewar breaking of the com- 
munications code used by the Japanese Navy. This knowledge and the for- 
tunes of battle tipped the scales in the Battle of Midway, the most decisive 
engagement of the Pacific war. 

The United States had expected that Japan would retaliate as soon as it 
could after the air raid on Japan, and at first the Army was most apprehensive 

74 6 June, Hawaiian dating. Hereafter, west longitude dating will be used in this section. 



of a carrier-based air attack on the continental west coast. 75 This apprehension 
lingered even after intercepts clearly indicated Midway and the Aleutians as 
the Japanese targets. The intercepts had become sufficiently meaningful by 
14 May to warrant the declaration of a state of fleet-opposed invasion for 
the Hawaiian area by General Marshall and Admiral King, in accordance 
with the plan they had agreed upon the preceding month. 76 By 16 May the 
commanders in Hawaii knew that Midway and the Aleutians were the prob- 
able Japanese objectives, and by 21 May they had deduced that the attack on 
Midway would begin on or about 3 June. 77 

Beginning on 18 May General Emmons kept the Army air command in 
Hawaii on the alert for a possible carrier attack on Oahu. Some of the B-iy's 
on reconnaissance duty were replaced by old B-18 mediums, and a striking 
force of heavy bombers was kept loaded with 500- and 600-pound bombs and 
ready to fly. By 30 May flights from the mainland had increased heavy bomb- 
er strength from 30 to 56 planes, and 12 of them took off that day to operate 
from Midway. Other Army planes followed, to make a force of 17 B-17's 
and 4 B-26 medium bombers participating in the Midway battle. By 10 June 
60 B-17 planes had reached Oahu from the West Coast, and during and after 
the battle the Army continued to maintain a striking force of heavy and 
medium bombers. But the destruction of the four enemy carriers on 4 and 5 
June not only decided the issue at sea but ended the threat of another Pearl 
Harbor attack, at least for the time being. The best of the heavy bombers 
moved on in July to the South Pacific for more active operations. 78 

After the Japanese lost their carriers they abandoned the invasion of Mid- 
way and, without air cover, they also avoided any further fleet engagement 
and turned homeward. The only fruit of their great offensive was the occupa- 
tion of Attu and Kiska in the Aleutians. 79 Midway redressed the disparity of 
naval strength that Japan had temporarily enjoyed and made impracticable 
any more major offensives beyond the original perimeter of enemy conquest. 

75 Memo, G-2 for OPD, 2 Apr 42, and other papers, in OPD 381 Japan/6; Stimson Diary, 
entry of 21 Apr 42. See above, !^ 88.1 

7G Rad, COM1NCH and CofS to CINCPAC (Info to CG Hawaiian Dept), 14 May 41, 
WDCSA 42-43 Hawaii. See above, rp~44l 

77 Memo, G-2 for CofS, 17 May 42, OPD 381 WDC/42 ; Rad, COMINCH to CINCPAC, 21 
May 42, OPD Exec 8, bk. 5. 

Craven and Cate eds., Plans and Early Operations, pp. 451-62; AAF Monograph 41, Oper- 
ational Hist of t he Seventh Air Force, pp. 13-26, and appendices. 

79 See |ch. X| below. 



With Midway, the threat that Japan might try to invade Oahu or one of the 
other main Hawaiian Islands was dissipated, and, although Japan retained a 
capability of making a carrier strike, the likelihood of one became increasingly 
remote. The strength of the Hawaiian Department in officers and men con- 
tinued to grow after June 1942, but more and more, Hawaii became an ad- 
vance training base and staging area for Army ground and air units that 
would do battle in the farther reaches of the Pacific. The Pacific focus of 
defense now shifted to the north. 


The Garrisoning of Alaska, 

The Japanese occupation of the Aleutian Islands of Kiska and Attu in 
June 1942 made Alaska the one theater or area in the Western Hemisphere 
in which Army ground and air forces met with a sizable battle test during 
World War II. Yet in prewar years the likelihood of military action in or 
near Alaska had appeared so remote that the Army had taken little more than 
an academic interest in America's huge northern continental territory and its 
island appendages extending far out into the Pacific. In fact, the only Army 
tactical force in Alaska in September 1939, when the German attack on 
Poland precipitated a new world war, was a garrison of 400 men — two rifle 
companies — at Chilkoot Barracks near Skagway, a relic of the Gold Rush 
days. Neither the size nor the location of this token force made it particularly 
useful for carrying out the Army's responsibility for defending the Alaskan 
mainland and the Aleutians as far westward as Unalaska Island. 1 

The Navy had likewise ignored Alaska, to all intents and purposes. In 
1939 it maintained a small seaplane base at Sitka and direction finder sta- 
tions at Soapstone Point (Cross Sound) and at Cape Hinchinbrook (Prince 
William Sound) . The only military establishments in the Aleutians were a 
naval radio station and a small Coast Guard base at Dutch Harbor on Un- 
alaska Island. The Navy had based its Alaska policy on the belief that 
Alaskan waters were secure as long as the Japanese abided by the Washing- 
ton Naval Treaty of 1922, which restricted the size of Japan's fleet and pro- 
hibited the fortification of its islands in the North Pacific. Despite the serious 
concern caused by Japan's announced withdrawal from the treaty in 1934 and 
its subsequent plunge into a desperate race for Pacific naval supremacy, this 
policy remained unchanged until the Hepburn Board, appointed by the Navy 
to investigate and to report on the need for additional naval bases in the Uni- 

1 Army interest in Alaska, from 1934. onward, can be followed most readily by reference to 


ted States and its outlying territories, recommended in December 1938 that 
Congress appropriate nineteen million dollars for the construction of air, sub- 
marine, and destroyer bases in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The board 
proposed that this sum be used to enlarge the seaplane base at Sitka and to 
establish seaplane and submarine bases at Kodiak, the large island east of 
the Alaskan Peninsula, and at Dutch Harbor. Civilian contractors began con- 
struction of the naval bases at Sitka and Kodiak in September 1939. In July 
1940 the contract was enlarged to include the development of the projected 
naval air station and adjacent Army defense facilities at Dutch Harbor. 2 

Initial Army Plans and Preparations 

In the meantime the revision of the Orange plan for a Japanese war in 
early 1938, coupled with the adoption of a new policy of hemisphere defense 
toward the end of the same year, had led to new Army defense plans for 
Alaska that took shape during 1939. Three new elements helped to stimulate 
a keener War Department interest in the area. In the first place the improve- 
ment of the airplane, particularly of the long-range bomber, gave new signifi- 
cance to Alaska's strategic position by making it more vulnerable to air at- 
tack from Asia and by increasing the danger of air strikes against the west 
coast if an enemy secured bases in Alaska. In the second place the growing 
strain in relations between the United States and Japan caused mounting con- 
cern for the protection of national interests in the northern Pacific. Lastly, the 
Navy's plans to build new air and submarine bases in Alaska increased the 
Army's task since the Army was responsible for the local protection of naval 

After the outbreak of war in Europe, General Staff planning for the 
defense of Alaska accelerated. By early 1940 the War Department had agreed 
on a long-range program having five major objectives: to augment the Alaska 
garrison; to establish a major base for Army operations near Anchorage; to 
develop a network of air bases and operating fields within Alaska; to garrison 
the airfields with combat forces; and to provide troops to protect the naval 
installations at Sitka, Kodiak, and Dutch Harbor. 

The actual build-up of Army defenses in Alaska made slow progress until 
mid-1941. A variety of factors both in Washington and in Alaska itself was 

2 H. Doc. 65, 76th Cong., 1st sess., Jan 3, 1939; Hepburn Report, Dec. 27, Memo, CNO 

for WPD, 2 Jun 39, WPD 3512-40; Navy Memo, Bur of Yards and Docks, 6 Apr 40, copy in 
WPD 4156-2; Official History of the Alaskan Department, June 1940-June 1944, OCMH, ch. I, 
p. 2; Morison, Rising Sun in the Pacific, pp. 32-34; Navy Dept, Building the Navy's Bases in 
World War U t II, p. 163. 



responsible. The War Department, laboring to produce a balanced program 
for the overseas garrisons, could not suddenly expand the defenses of Alaska. 
Furthermore, in the delicate task of equitably adjusting pressing needs to 
limited resources, Army planners found it hard to shake their long-held con- 
viction that Alaska was not a critical area. Finally, the Alaskan environment 
conspired to retard a rapid expansion of Army installations. 

Geography posed tremendous barriers to military construction and opera- 
tions in Alaska. Nearly one-fifth as large as the main land mass of the con- 
tinental United States, Alaska is not a homogeneous geographical entity but 
a series of separate natural regions, each having its own distinctive physical 
characteristics. 3 The major obstacles to be overcome were isolation and the 
lack of a well-developed internal transportation system. Until November 
1942, when the Alaska Highway was opened for traffic, the only direct con- 
nection between the continental United States and Alaska was by sea or air. 
To all intents and purposes Alaska was an island, not a peninsula. Almost 
all food and supplies for the military garrisons as well as for the civilian 
population had to be imported by sea, a situation not changed by the opening 
of the highway. Not only was access to the territory restricted, but movement 
within Alaska itself was also difficult, for the rivers and mountains are so 
located as to offer few paths into the vast interior. In general, the larger topo- 
graphic features correspond to those of the western continental United States. 
Along the coast lies the Pacific mountain system, succeeded inland by a great 
plateau, then a Rocky Mountain system, and finally, in the extreme north, a 
great plains region sloping to the Arctic Ocean. The mountain barrier which 
skirts the long southern shore line along the Pacific is bisected by only a few 
passes utilized by the main railroad and highway systems. For hundreds of 
miles, with the exception of these passes, there are no feasible routes inland 
on the ground. 

Defense requirements dramatically emphasized Alaska's remoteness and 
the urgent need for better communications within the territory. In 1940 only 
two railroads were in regular operation. One was the narrow-gauge White 
Pass and Yukon Railroad, which ran from Skagway to Whitehorse in 
Canada's Yukon Territory. The other was the government-owned Alaska 
Railroad, operated by the Department of the Interior. It extended approxi- 
mately 470 miles from Seward to Fairbanks, by way of Anchorage, and 
reached out over short branch lines to the Matanuska Valley and the Eska 
and Suntrana coal regions. It was the only all-year surface route from the 

3 Although Alaska has now become one of the continental United States, this term is still 
commonly used to denote the 48 contiguous states. 



coast into central Alaska, and the principal means of transportation to the 
large Army bases that were to be established at Anchorage and Fairbanks. 
This line, which had been in operation since 1923, had undergone little im- 
provement, and both the track and rolling stock were in poor condition when 
the defense development in Alaska began. 

The southern end of the Alaska Railroad from Seward to Anchorage 
posed the most serious problem. This section ran through extremely moun- 
tainous country, and operation was made difficult by heavy snow and steep 
grades. Fifty miles north of Seward the railroad went through a tunnel and 
then ran over a wooden loop trestle which was highly susceptible to damage 
by sabotage or bombing. The vulnerability of the southern end of the road 
was a matter of great concern to the Army's Alaskan commander. In 1940 the 
War Plans Division welcomed and approved a proposal made by the Depart- 
ment of the Interior to provide a new southern terminal of the road. A year 
later work was begun on a 12-mile cut-off from Portage to the port of Whit- 
tier at the head of Passage Canal, which would eliminate military dependence 
on the treacherous mountain section south of Portage and shorten the rail 
distance to Anchorage and points north by fifty-two miles, but difficulties in 
construction prevented its opening until 1 June 1943. 4 

Rivers, airways, and a few roads supplemented the very limited railroad 
facilities. The principal Alaskan road net was the Richardson Highway which 
ran from Valdez to Fairbanks, and the connecting Steeze Highway from Fair- 
banks to Circle. No east-west road system existed. Although river transporta- 
tion was used to a limited extent in the central plain area, only the Yukon 
and Kuskokwim Rivers had scheduled carriers, and they are open to naviga- 
tion only four or five months each year. A rapid growth of airways in Alaska 
during the 1930's had helped to solve its transportation problems. By 1940 
plane service linked together many communities which formerly had been al- 
most completely isolated, and in that year Pan American Airways inaugurated 
regular scheduled flights between Seattle and Ketchikan and Juneau. The 
success of commercial aviation presaged the important role military aviation 
would play in Alaska's defense. But air transportation alone could handle 
only a small fraction of the military supplies that would be needed. 

The principal communication facility in Alaska before the war was the 
radio network of the Alaska Communication System operated by the Army 
Signal Corps. Established in 1900 to build and operate cable and telegraph 

4 Memo, WPD for G-4, 21 Mar 40, and subsequent papers, in WPD 3512-57; Bykofsky and 
Larson, Transportation Corps: Operations Overseas, p. 54. 



lines to and within Alaska, this system by 1934 had abandoned all its wire 
facilities and operated exclusively by radio. The only remaining wire com- 
munication within Alaska after 1934 was the telephone line along the Alaska 
Railroad. Military traffic accounted for only a very small fraction of the 
business handled by the Army's radio network until 1940; and for this 
reason the War Department in the 1930's had favored either selling the 
system or turning it over to the Department of the Interior. With the ex- 
pansion of Alaskan defenses the Army quickly changed its mind; and, after 
the alert of July 1941 disclosed the inadequacies of existing Army communi- 
cation facilities, the War Department approved a rehabilitation and expan- 
sion of the Alaska Communication System and the repair of the disused 
cable between Seattle and Seward in order to provide a secure means of 
military communication with the continental United States. At the same time 
the War Department decided to use the existing system instead of establish- 
ing a new and separate tactical command radio network, and to operate it 
henceforth in such a manner that it could be used exclusively for military 
needs if necessary. 5 

Geographical factors were basic to the assumptions on which Army plans 
for Alaska were built, although Army planners sometimes forgot that the 
obstacles posed by geography and climate were as formidable to any would- 
be invader as they were to defenders. They did recognize that the Alaskan 
terrain precluded a major ground invasion. They assumed that the most 
likely forms of attack would be small-scale air or ground raids made by an 
enemy who would strike without warning. By 1940 they assumed it would 
be necessary to station troops in Alaska before the outbreak of hostilities. 
The key to Alaskan defense, according to a consensus of those responsible 
for its security, lay in denying to an enemy actual or potential bases from 
which air or naval operations could be conducted. 6 The strategic problem 
was to work out a system that could cope with the transportation difficulties 
without unduly dispersing the forces. At the outset the planners formulated 
two possible solutions to the problem. One proposed that a strong mobile 
force be stationed in the Anchorage area. In the event of an attack, this force 

5 Memo, Lt Col Guy W. Chipman for ACofS WPD, 23 Jan 35, and subsequent papers, in 
WPD 3512-8, 9, and 24; Memo, G-4 for CofS, 3 Sep 41, (DCS 18263-54; Memo, G-3 for CofS, 

9 Oct 41, OCS 18263-57. See also Terrett, The Emergency, chs. Ill and XI. 

6 Incl to Ltr, CG Fourth Army to CofS, 22 Aug 39, WPD 3512-46; Memo, WPD for CofS, 

10 May 40, WPD 4297 ; Memo, CG Fourth Army for WPD, 31 May 40, WPD 4297 ; JB 312, ser 
650, 15 Aug 40; Ltr, Hq ADF to CG Ninth Corps Area, 3 Sep 40, AG 320.2 (9-3-40) ; Ltr, 
Brig Gen Simon B. Buckner, Jr., to CG Fourth Army, 9 Oct 40, WDC-ADC 381 Def of Alaska, 
Gen, vol. II. 


would be moved as quickly as possible to the threatened area to repel the 
enemy. As the alternate solution, they proposed that the Army maintain 
virtually autonomous garrisons of air-ground teams at strategic positions 
along the southern coast and in the Aleutian Islands. These garrisons should 
be sufficiently strong to be able to act alone in defending the local area. The 
former plan was attractive in theory; the latter was possible in practice. It was 
adopted and guided the subsequent expansion of garrisons throughout the 
territory and into the Aleutian chain during the war. 7 

A defense system made up of a series 'of isolated semiautonomous gar- 
risons could be a practicable one only to the extent that military aviation was 
provided in the territory. For many years the Air Corps had urged the War 
Department to develop airfields and air power in Alaska, but it was not until 
the general reassessment of air needs for hemisphere defense in 1939 that 
the Army began to plan for the deployment of tactical planes to the terri- 
tory. As of May 1939 the Army proposed to garrison Alaska with one com- 
posite group comprising 8 long-range bombers, 17 medium-range attack 
bombers, and 27 pursuit planes, together with suitable auxiliary aircraft. 8 
In June the Army Air Board concluded that a main air base should be estab- 
lished in the Anchorage-Fairbanks area, and that operating airdromes should 
be built in the Anchorage-Kodiak, Juneau-Sitka, and Dutch Harbor regions. 9 
In revised estimates of airplane needs after the outbreak of war in Europe, 
the Army proposed that Alaska be garrisoned eventually with 80 pursuit, 
26 bombardment, and 4 amphibian planes. 10 

During the 1939 planning it had been hoped at first that both tactical 
requirements for air defense and technical needs for experimental cold 
weather flying could be met in the same major air base. The choice for such 
a base site lay between Fairbanks and Anchorage, each location presenting 
both assets and liabilities. 11 Initially, Fairbanks was the more favored site. 
Its tactical advantages included a central location on the Alaskan mainland 
and a network of railroad, highway, river, and air connections. The wide 
range of temperature at Fairbanks — 90 F. in summer to — 60 F. in winter 
— made it ideally suited for experimental cold weather flying. But the dis- 
advantages of Fairbanks as a site for the principal air garrison were mani- 
fold. Most troops and supplies would have to be transported overland nearly 

7 Official Hist of the Alaskan Dept, ch. I, pp. 5-6. 

8 Craven and Cate, eds., Plans and Early Operations, p. 125; Memo, WPD for Budget and 
Planning Br., WDGS, 6 May 39, WPD 3807-31. 

9 Tab Y 3 , Air Bd Rpt, 26 Jun 39, WPD 3748-17- 

10 Tab C to Memo, WPD for CofS, 21 Dec 39, WPD 3807-41. 

11 Memo, WPD for CofS, 15 May 39, WPD 3512-38. 



500 miles from Seward, the main port of entry. It was remote from the 
Navy's projected bases at Sitka and on Kodiak and Unalaska. The climatic 
conditions, while ideal for experimental flying, would make tactical air op- 
erations extremely difficult. The planners therefore reluctantly concluded 
that a single station combining both tactical and technical needs would not 
be feasible, and chose Anchorage as the site for the main tactical air base 
as well as for the principal ground garrison. It could be supplied much more 
readily, it was surrounded by extensive level ground for the encampment 
of troops or the construction of buildings, and it was strategically located 
to protect the vital southern Alaskan coast. A more equable climate than 
that of Fairbanks reduced the risks involved in air operations. By the latter 
part of 1939 all agencies responsible for Alaskan defense planning had 
agreed that both a major tactical air base and a cold weather experimental 
station were necessary, and that the former should be located near Anchor- 
age and the latter near Fairbanks. 12 

In the 1939 planning it had also been agreed that, if the Army were to 
fulfill its air mission of assisting in the defense of the new military establish- 
ments to be developed along the southern Alaskan coast and of supporting 
the Navy in resisting hostile attempts to gain lodgment in Alaskan territory, 
the Army Air Corps must be able to conduct operations as far west as Kiska 
and as far south as Ketchikan. Accordingly, plans were made to build a series 
of staging fields north from Puget Sound and out to the Aleutians that would 
tie in with the new Anchorage base and with the Navy's fields (which the 
Army proposed to use also) at Sitka, Kodiak, and Unalaska. The Army pro- 
posed to build these staging fields at Metlakatla (near Ketchikan), Yakutat, 
and Cordova, and at Naknek, Port Heiden, and Sand Point on or near the 
Alaska Peninsula. The Army also planned to develop subsidiary operating 
and emergency fields in interior and western Alaska near Tanana Crossing, 
Bethel, and Nome. 13 By 1939, also, the Civil Aeronautics Authority had begun 
to build additional airports and airway facilities in Alaska; and, at the request 
of the Army, these airports were planned to conform to military standards. 
By February 1940 the Army and the Civil Aeronautics Authority had effec- 
tively co-ordinated their construction programs. 14 

12 Memos, WPD for G-4, 9 Feb 39, and WPD for G-3, 21 Mar 39. Both in WPD 3512-35. 
Incl to Ltr, CG Fourth Army to CofS, 22 Aug 39, WPD 3512-46; Memo, WPD for CG Fourth 
Army, 10 Oct 39, WPD 3512-47. 

13 Memo, WPD for CofS, 25 Aug 39, WPD 3512-38; Ltr, Hq ADF to CG Ninth Corps Area, 
3 Sep 40, AG 320.2 (9-3-40) ; Official Hist of Alaskan Dept, ch. XXI. 

14 Memo, WPD for TAG, 20 Oct 39, WPD 3512-48; Memo, CofAC for TAG, 25 Oct 39, 
WPD 3512-49; Memo, WPD for CofS, 29 Feb 40, WPD 3512-53. 


The Alaska Defense Command 

The Army took the first step toward implementing its long-range defense 
program for Alaska in August 1939 when construction began on the air 
base at Fairbanks, to be known as Ladd Field. Four months earlier President 
Roosevelt by Executive order had set aside land near Anchorage for a pro- 
jected ground base. 15 The Army had hoped construction of ground and air 
installations near Anchorage could begin in the spring of 1940, but initially 
the House Subcommittee on Military Appropriations eliminated the request 
for funds for the Anchorage development from the 1941 budget. Ultimately 
the entire amount asked for was appropriated, but it was German conquest 
of the Low Countries and France and the threatened invasion of England 
rather than Army pleas that moved Congress to prepare hastily a revised 
appropriations bill which included funds for the Anchorage project. 

Without waiting for final legislative action, General Marshall approved 
a policy to govern the expansion of Alaskan defenses which provided for a 
permanent ground garrison of about 2,000 men and a temporary emergency 
garrison of about 3,100 men. The temporary garrison was to consist of one 
regiment of infantry, one composite battalion of field artillery, one regi- 
ment of antiaircraft artillery, and essential service elements (at peacetime 
strengths) ; and Anchorage was also to have a permanent air garrison of 
one composite group. General Marshall directed that the first increment of 
these forces — one battalion of infantry and one battalion of field artillery — 
be sent to Anchorage not later than 30 June 1940. He recommended that 
this force be followed as soon as possible by elements of the 28th Composite 
Group (Air Corps) and the remainder of the temporary ground garrison. 
Temporary construction of the mobilization type, designed to fit in with the 
permanent facilities to be built later, was to be completed as rapidly as 
possible. 16 

Congress in the meantime tentatively approved the establishment of Fort 
Richardson at Anchorage as the principal Army headquarters, and construc- 
tion of ground and air facilities began on 8 June 1940. The first increment of 
combat troops, 21 officers and 732 enlisted men under the command of Lt. 
Col. Earl Landreth, arrived at Anchorage on 27 June. 17 On 19 September 

15 Memo, WPD for SGS, 6 Jun 39, WPD 3512-30. 

16 Memo, CofS for G-3, 27 May 40, OCS 14943-21; Memo, SGS for G-3, G-4, and WPD, 
27 May 40, WPD 3512-62; Memo, WPD for all interested WD agencies, 29 May 40, WPD 
3512-59; D/F, G-4 to TAG, 29 May 40, AG 600.12 (8-24-39). 

17 Ltr, CG Fourth Army to CofS, 28 Jun 40, OCS 14943-24. 



1940 construction of the Metlakatla (subsequently known as Annette Island) 
airfield began, and a month later construction of Yakutat airfield was 
started. 18 

Until July 1940 the Army's Alaskan posts were directly under the Ninth 
Corps Area, commanded by General DeWitt. As a result of the extensive 
construction then planned, the projected expansion of both air and ground 
garrisons, and the development of naval facilities, General DeWitt, with the 
support of the War Plans Division, recommended that a special commander 
for troops in Alaska be appointed to supervise directly the expansion of 
Alaskan defenses. The War Department accepted his proposal, and on 9 July 
1940, Col. Simon B. Buckner, Jr., was appointed commander of United States 
troops in Alaska. 19 Two weeks later the new Army garrison was redesignated 
the Alaska Defense Force, and on 1 September 1940 its commander was 
promoted to brigadier general. Further evidence of the expansion of defense 
activities in Alaska during 1940 was the establishment by the Navy in mid- 
summer of the Alaskan Sector as a subordinate command within the Thirteenth 
Naval District. 20 The Fourth Army, also commanded by General DeWitt, 
assumed the Ninth Corps Area's tactical responsibilities in October 1940. 
In February 1941 the War Department created the Alaska Defense Com- 
mand. Like its predecessor, the Alaska Defense Command was a subordinate 
command of the Fourth Army, and it also came under the newly established 
Western Defense Command. 21 

In April 1941 the General Staff raised the question of whether it would 
be desirable to make Alaska a separate overseas department, because of 
the greatly increased size of the garrison, its distance from the continental 
United States, and the mission of the forces stationed there. 22 Two sharply 
divergent views were expressed in response to this inquiry. This difference 
of opinion stemmed as much from disagreement over who was to command 
the air defense as it did from the intrinsic merits of establishing Alaska as 
an independent command. General DeWitt objected strongly to separating 
Alaska from the Western Defense Command. He argued that if Alaska 
were made a separate department it would make the Army defense of the 
Pacific coast including Alaska more difficult. He recommended that all 

18 Hist of WDC, vol. I, ch. 2, p. 4. 

19 Memo, WPD for CofS, 17 Jun 40; Ltr, CG Fourth Army to Col Buckner, 9 Jul 40. Both in 
WPD 3512-62. 

20 Tel g, CNO to Commandant, Thirteenth Naval District, 1 Aug 40, WPD 4156-4. 

21 See fcOI] 

22 Memo, WPD for TAG, 16 Apr 41, WPD 4480. 



air and ground units in the Alaska Defense Command and the Western 
Defense Command be integrated under him. To facilitate this integration, 
he proposed that an air force command with headquarters adjacent to the 
headquarters of the Western Defense Command and operating under his 
authority be established to control all air forces on the Pacific coast. 23 Brig. 
Gen. Carl Spaatz, Chief of the Air Staff, opposed General DeWitt and 
favored the creation of an Alaskan Department. He argued that it was as 
illogical to have Alaska under the Western Defense Command as it would 
be to have Hawaii under General DeWitfs authority. He recommended 
instead that the War Department divide the north Pacific triangle into three 
sections — the Pacific coast of the United States, Alaska, and Hawaii — and 
make each section a separate theater of operations. He thought that since 
it was impossible to integrate the ground defense plans for the three areas, 
each theater commander should have complete responsibility for the ground 
defense of his section. But, he argued, since it was not only possible but 
necessary to co-ordinate air plans for operations from the three areas, air 
defense of all three theaters should be placed under a single commander 
responsible to the Army Air Forces and independent of the theater com- 
manders. 24 In mid-August the War Plans Division and GHQ, both initially 
in favor of a separate Alaskan department, swung over to General DeWitt's 
point of view. 25 Alaska was not to become a separate Army command until 
late 1943. 26 

Making Ready To Defend the Navy's Bases 

As the Navy launched its construction of air and submarine bases at 
Sitka, Kodiak Island, and Dutch Harbor, the Army embarked on preliminary 
planning for the defense of these bases. Since the problems involved were 
essentially interservice ones and not the province of the Army alone, the 
Joint Board referred the subject to the Joint Planning Committee in Febru- 
ary 1940 and instructed it to study the problems of construction, financing, 
site selection, and garrisoning at the naval bases as a part of the whole 
Alaskan defense problem. While waiting for the Joint Planning Committee 
to act the Army grew increasingly concerned over the security of the naval 
bases, for without adequate protection from ground troops they would 

23 Ltr, Gen DeWitt to TAG, 16 May 41, AG 320.2 (4-16-41). 

24 Memo, CofAS for WPD, 4 Aug 41, AG 320.2 (4-16-41). 

25 Me mo, DCo fS GHQ for WPD, n Aug 41, WPD 4175-18, sec. 1. 

26 See lch. XI.| 



View of Dutch Harbor, with typical overcast. 

become tempting prizes for an enemy. 27 In May 1940 General DeWitt pro- 
posed that the force about to depart for Anchorage should be ready at all 
times to dispatch combat teams for the protection of Dutch Harbor and 
Kodiak in an emergency. 28 This proposal, reflecting the lingering notion 
that a reserve force in the Anchorage area could be rushed to the defense of 
a threatened outlying base, found some support in the War Department; 
but difficulties of transportation and lack of shipping made it unworkable. 
After an inspection trip to Alaska in June, General DeWitt abandoned the 
idea of a mobile force, proposing instead that a garrison be sent to Kodiak 
as soon as housing was ready. 29 

In August 1940 the Joint Planning Committee finally completed and 
submitted to the Joint Board a basic directive for the defense of naval bases 
in Alaska. The Joint Planners recognized the possibility of "surprise aggres- 
sion against Alaska by either Japan or Russia," but assumed that major land 

27 Memo, WPD for CofS, 20 Apr 40, WPD 3512-59. 

28 1st Ind, CG Fourth Army to WPD, 31 May 4Q> WPD 4297* 

29 Ltr, CG Fourth Army to CofS, 28 Jun 40, OCS 14943-24. 



operations in the Alaskan area were unlikely. They concluded that control 
of the important strategic locations of Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kodiak, Sitka, 
and Dutch Harbor would meet the principal requirements for the defense 
of Alaska as a whole. The Joint Board placed responsibility for the defense 
of the naval bases squarely on the Army, emphasizing that the "local de- 
fense of Kodiak, Sitka, and Unalaska is but an element of the defense of 
Alaska as a whole, which is a responsibility of the Army/' It approved the 
establishment of Army garrisons at each of the naval bases, and proposed that 
these consist of an infantry battalion with artillery attachments at Kodiak 
and Dutch Harbor and of an infantry company with similar artillery sup- 
port at Sitka. The Board recommended that marines be used to guard the 
naval installations until Army facilities could be completed and troops moved 
to their stations. It further recommended that, in addition to ground troops, 
the Army eventually should provide defensive pursuit aviation at Kodiak and 
possibly at Dutch Harbor. The Joint Board's action, approved on 15 August, 
provided that details were to be worked out by the Commanding Officer, 
Alaska Defense Force, in direct collaboration with the Commander, Alaskan 
Sector, Thirteenth Naval District. 30 

During the following six months, Army and Navy officers worked to- 
gether on the common problems of locating the sites for the Army garrisons, 
constructing facilities for the Army's use, and financing the projects. They 
soon decided that both services should use the same facilities as much as 
possible. They further agreed that if additional construction were needed 
for the Army, it should follow the Navy's pattern and be done by Navy 
contractors with funds provided by the War Department. Ultimately all 
Army construction at Sitka, Kodiak, and Dutch Harbor was performed under 
contracts let by the Navy Department. A naval officer was directly in charge 
of each project, but General DeWitt exercised supervisory control. 31 Although 
the Army and Navy quickly agreed on these general matters, they found 
that it took much longer to thresh out the specific problems involved in select- 
ing sites for Army posts. Each location presented special problems requiring 
independent study, and conflicts between Army and Navy plans had to be 
adjusted before construction could begin. 

The Army program for defending the Alaskan naval bases gave priority 
to Kodiak Island because of its strategic position, but disagreement between 

30 JB 312, ser 650, 15 Aug 40. 

31 Memo, G-4 for CofS, 17 Sep 40, and subsequent papers in AG 600.12 (8-24-39) ; Memo, 
Col Stephen J. Chamberlin, Chief, Construction Br, for ACofS G-4, 18 Oct 41, WDC-ADC 686, 
vol. II. 



the services delayed the start of Army construction there for several months. 
In June 1940 General DeWitt had disapproved of the site initially proposed 
by the Navy for the Army post, north of the Buskin River, because it con- 
tained swampy ground which would require a great deal of filling and 
grading before it could be used and because it was too far removed from 
the Navy's installations for economical construction. His recommendation 
that the Army garrison be located on a site south of the Buskin River, one- 
half mile from its mouth, was opposed by the Navy since an Army post 
south of the river would interfere with the construction of a naval airfield on 
which work had already begun. 32 Finally, at a conference held on 19 Novem- 
ber, General DeWitt and Rear Adm. Charles S. Freeman, the commandant of 
the Thirteenth Naval District, agreed that the Navy's contractors should 
undertake new surveys for an Army post north of the Buskin River. Construc- 
tion of the Army's Fort Greeley, with facilities adequate to accommodate 236 
officers and 5,592 enlisted men, was at last begun on 1 February 1 941. 33 

At Sitka, the most southeasterly of the naval stations, there was no room 
for an Army post on Japonski Island in Sitka Sound where the Navy was 
building its installations. After surveying the Sitka area, General Buckner 
recommended in October that the shoals connecting Japonski Island with 
three smaller islands adjacent to it — Charcoal, Alice, and Harbor — be filled 
in and the Army garrison built on Charcoal Island and the surrounding 
filled-in land. His recommendation received the approval of the commander 
of the Alaskan Sector, General DeWitt, and Admiral Freeman. In November 
the War Department authorized Navy contractors to survey Charcoal Island. 
Congress appropriated $625,000 for the fill, and construction was started on 
9 January 1 941. 34 

Within a month the Sitka project was subjected to a complete re-examin- 
ation. The crowding of the Army garrison on two tiny islands — one, 200 by 
100 yards, and the other still smaller — aroused sharp criticism. General 
DeWitt returned from an inspection of Sitka in May 1941 convinced that 

32 Ltr, CG Fourth Army to CofS, 28 Jun 40, OCS 14943-24; Ltr, CG Fourth Army to TAG, 
2 Jul 40; Rad, TAG to CG Fourth Army, 7 Sep 40; Memo, CNO for CofS, 22 Oct 40; Last 
three in AG 600.12 (8-24-39). 

33 Memo of Conf, 19 Nov 40, WDC-ADC 381 Def of Alaska, vol. Ill; Ltr, CG WDC to 
TAG, 8 Sep 41, AG 600.12 (8-24-39) ; Memo, Col Chamberlin for ACofS G-4, 18 Oct 41, 
WDC-ADC 686, vol. II. 

34 Ltr, Gen Buckner to Gen DeWitt, 9 Oct 40, WDC-ADC 381 Def of Alaska, vol. II; Ltr, 
COMALSEC Thirteenth Naval District to CNO, 29 Oct 40, WDC-ADC 381 Def of Alaska, vol. 
II; Memo of Conf, 19 Nov 40 WDC-ADC 381 Def of Alaska, vol. Ill; Ltr, Gen DeWitt to Gen 
Marshall, 4 Jun 41, WDC-ADC 381 Def of Alaska, vol. IV; Ltr, CG WDC to TAG, 8 Sep 41, 
AG 600.12 (8-24-39). 


construction of housing on the fill would result in dangerous congestion. 
He sought authorization to abandon the fill project and to substitute instead 
the construction of an 8,100-foot causeway connecting the southernmost tip 
of Japonski Island and Makhnati Island by way of eight intermediate islands. 
He argued that the causeway could be completed sooner than the fill, that 
it would facilitate communications, permit the dispersion of housing and 
of tactical units, provide all-weather accessibility to gun batteries and search- 
light positions, and generally give greater elasticity to the defense. Bidding 
for Navy support for the change, he added that the causeway would make 
Whiting Harbor secure and thus permit the establishment of a section base 
for naval patrol craft nearby. His recommendation received naval support 
and was approved by the Chief of Staff. On 7 June 1941 the War Depart- 
ment directed the Chief of Engineers to proceed with the causeway project 
utilizing funds available for the previously authorized fill. Although the 
principal Army post at Sitka, Fort Ray, remained on Charcoal Island, the 
congestion and crowding in the Japonski Island area was relieved by housing 
the additional elements of the garrison on the small islands between Japonski 
and Makhnati. 35 

At Dutch Harbor, where the Navy began construction of a combined 
air and submarine station in 1940, the Navy's original plans left no room 
for an Army post on Amaknak Island where naval construction was con- 
centrated. The Army rejected proposals to place its garrison on a nearby 
island since reconnaissance of the area revealed that the only feasible loca- 
tion for a ground garrison was on Amaknak. After many months of discus- 
sion, the Navy agreed in November 1940 to survey land on an adjacent area 
near Margaret Bay on Amaknak for an Army installation. The result was 
the construction of the Army's Fort Mears at Dutch Harbor, begun on 
25 January 1941. There, as at Sitka and Kodiak, the Army post was placed 
as close to Navy facilities as possible without being immediately adjacent 
to or combined with naval construction. 36 

The Army's responsibility for the local air defense of the Navy's new 
bases was a more difficult problem to solve. Local air protection for Sitka 
was provided by building a concrete runway similar to the deck of an aircraft 

S5 Ltr, Gen DeWitt to Gen Marshall, 4 Jun 41, WDC-ADC 381, Def of Alaska, vol. IV; 
Memo, TAG for CofEngrs, 7 Jun 41, AG 600.12 (8-24-39) ; Memo, Col Chamberlin for 
ACofS G-4, 18 Oct 41, WDC-ADC 686, vol. II. 

36 Ltr, Gen Buckner to CG Fourth Army, 9 Oct 40, WDC-ADC 381 Def of Alaska, vol. II; 
Memo of Conf, 19 Nov 40, WDC-ADC 381 Def of Alaska, vol. Ill; Memo, Col Chamberlin, for 
ACofS G-4, 18 Oct 41, WDC-ADC 686, vol. II; Ltr, CG WDC to TAG, 8 Sep 41; Ltr, CG 
Fourth Army to DCofS, 3 Dec 40. Last two in AG 600.12 (8-24-39). 



carrier and with the same devices for arresting planes. This was used by 
carrier and not Army planes. After protracted debate the Navy agreed to 
extend the runways of its fields at Kodiak to 6,ooo feet in order to permit 
the operation of Army bombardment as well as pursuit aviation in the area. 37 
A solution of the even more complex problem of the air defense of the 
naval station at Dutch Harbor was not found until November 1941, 38 

Although plans for sending troops to Sitka, Kodiak, and Unalaska had 
been drafted before construction started — indeed, before the Joint Board had 
issued its directive — the War Department as well as General DeWitt and 
General Buckner had agreed that no troops should be sent until housing at 
the naval bases was ready. The Navy estimated that this housing would not 
be ready until mid-summer 1941. Nevertheless, in early 1941 the War De- 
partment, responding to the increasing tension in American-Japanese rela- 
tions, partially reversed its policy and directed General DeWitt to arrange 
for the immediate, but piecemeal, deployment of troops to the naval bases. 39 
Naval authorities concurred in the decision, and General DeWitt acted 
promptly. In March 1 941 he had forces for Kodiak, Sitka, and Dutch Harbor 
concentrated on the west coast, and at the end of the month these troops 
began moving toward Alaska. By June elements of the garrisons were at all 
three stations. Then, on 26 June, G-2 informed the War Plans Division that 
Japan might well take advantage of the new conflict between the Soviet 
Union and Germany to move against Alaska and urged the War Department 
to increase the Alaska Defense Command to its full strength as soon as 
possible. Washington, convinced that the threat was real, agreed to strengthen 
the command. Accordingly, throughout the summer troops in great numbers 
and at an accelerated rate continued to move to the naval bases, to Seward 
in order to protect the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad, and to 
Anchorage, despite the fact that housing was not ready. By the end of July 
the movement of the authorized emergency garrisons for the Sitka, Kodiak, 
and Dutch Harbor areas — approximately 70 officers and 1,950 enlisted men 
for Sitka, 235 officers and 5,600 enlisted men for Kodiak, and 225 officers 
and 5,200 enlisted men for Dutch Harbor — was nearing completion. 40 

"Memo, W PP for G-4, 27 Jun 41, WPD 3512-100. 
38 See below, |p7 244 

39 Watson, Prewar Plans and Preparations, pp. 124-25. 

40 Ltr, CG Fourth Army to TAG, 28 Feb 41, WDC-ADC 381/32, pt. I; Memo, SGS for 
CofS, 11 Mar 41, OCS Conf, binder 11; Ltr, CG WDC to CG ADC, 22 Mar 41, WDC-ADC 
381/32, pt. I; Memo, G-2 for WPD, 26 Jun 41, OPD Exec 8, bk. A; Rad, CG Fourth Army to 
Commandant, Thirteenth Naval District, 8 Jul 41, WDC-ADC 381 Def of Alaska, Gen, vol. IV; 
Ltr, TAG to CG's, 15 Jul 41, AG 320.2 (5-6-41). 



The rapid increase in the size of the Alaska garrison during the summer 
of 1941 made it necessary to house several thousand of the newly arrived 
soldiers in tents at the Kodiak, Anchorage, and Seward bases. This develop- 
ment led to sharp criticism by Senator Ralph Owen Brewster, a member of 
the Special Committee Investigating Defense Contracts (the Truman Com- 
mittee) who toured the principal Alaskan bases during August, and sub- 
sequently by a number of other congressmen as well. Senator Brewster in 
his report noted that the Army planned to house a good many troops in tents 
during the fall and winter months, particularly at Kodiak; and he com- 
mented that "this seems in flat contravention of the legislative provision 
that the soldiers should be adequately housed." 11 Admiral Stark and General 
Marshall took personal note of this criticism, and the Chief of Staff called 
upon General DeWitt to give his "immediate and personal attention" to see- 
ing that everything possible was done toward making the troops housed in 
tent camps comfortable. General DeWitt reported that Army tent camps 
were being fully winterized and were well heated, and that troops would 
be removed from them as rapidly as new barracks became available. As the 
War Department pointed out to Senator Harley M. Kilgore, the word 
"Alaska" tended to make the situation sound worse than it actually was, 
since the average winter temperatures on Kodiak, where the largest number 
of troops were in tents, were approximately the same as those at Wheeling 
in the Senator's own state of West Virginia. 42 

The dispatch of protective forces for the naval bases was the principal 
factor in the threefold increase in the strength of the Alaska Defense Com- 
mand between the end of June and the end of September 1941 — from 7,263 
to 21,565. The original authorization of May 1940 for an emergency gar- 
rison of 3,100 had grown by July 1941 to one of 24,000 so that (by Septem- 
ber) the actual strength in Alaska was not far short of that contemplated as 
long as the United States remained at peace in the Pacific. The ground com- 
bat elements that had been sent were generally well equipped, and included 
four infantry regiments, three and one-half antiaircraft regiments, a 155-mm. 
gun mobile coast artillery regiment, and a tank company. In ground defenses 
Alaska was no longer the exposed and undefended continental salient that 
it had been in 1939. 43 

41 Rpt of Senator Brewster to Senator Harry S. Truman, 5 Sep 41, copy in AG 600.12 

42 Various papers, dated Sep and Oct 41, in AG 600.12 (8-24-39). 

43 Ltr, TAG to CG's, 15 Jul 41, AG 320.2 (5-6-41) ; Memo, G-3 for SGS, 9 Sep 41, OCS 
18251-63. The actual strength figures cited are those compiled by the Machine Records Branch, 
AGO, 30 Nov 45, in OPD file, Pearl Harbor Misc Corresp. 



The Air Defense Problems 

In contrast to the rapid increase in Army ground force strength, the 
Alaska Defense Command's air strength remained notably weak in the fall of 
1941. To a certain extent the lack of aircraft controlled Washington's policy 
toward Alaska. Throughout 1941, but particularly in the three months before 
Pearl Harbor, increasing tension in many parts of the world, the demands 
of the lend-lease program, and inadequate plane production forced the War 
Department to adhere to a rigid system of priorities in allocating the limited 
number of aircraft at its disposal, and Alaska held a priority for aircraft far 
below those of Panama, Hawaii, and the Philippines. But the unresolved 
question of what part Army Air Forces were to play in the total scheme of 
Alaskan defense also governed the allotment of planes. This question in 
turn was linked to an even more fundamental controversy within the War 
Department itself between the initial prewar theory of Alaskan defense and 
a new concept of the Army's mission in Alaska. 

The initial theory had emphasized a defense of the Seward-Anchorage 
area, supplemented by a joint Army-Navy defense of Kodiak. According to 
its premises, the Aleutians were primarily a Navy sphere of operations. This 
theory was adequate so long as a serious attack on Alaska seemed unlikely 
and the problem was merely one of local defense. By the beginning of 1941 
the relative weakening of the American naval position in the Pacific, and the 
increasingly hostile attitude of Japan, indicated the need for consideration of 
offensive action. As a result, a new theory of Alaskan defense, based on a 
concept of an aggressive defense, gradually developed. Since ground force 
garrisons were virtually tied to their stations, aggressive defense, under 
Alaskan conditions, would depend on the striking power of ground-based 
aviation. In view of the possibility of using Alaska as a base for an attack 
against Japan if it were to go on a rampage in the Pacific, it was now con- 
sidered vital to keep control of the Aleutians at least as far west as Dutch 
Harbor, and preferably in their entirety, 44 The growing importance of retain- 
ing control over the Aleutians was reflected in revised war plans which stated 
the mission of Army forces in Alaska as follows: 'To defend United States 
military and naval installations in Alaska, including Unalaska, against sea, 
land and air attacks and against sabotage; to deny use by the enemy of sea 
and land bases in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands; to support the Navy." 45 

44 AAF Hist Study 4, Alaskan Air Defense and the Japanese Invasion of the Aleutians, copy in 
OCMH, p. 24. 

45 Memo, WPD for TAG, 16 Jan 41, AG 320.2 (9-3-40). 


The new theory of an aggressive defensive for Alaska had appeared first 
in an analysis by General Buckner which he submitted to General DeWitt 
on 3 September 1940. Some facets of this analysis conformed to earlier assess- 
ments. General Buckner agreed that an enemy could seriously threaten 
Alaska only if the United States Fleet lost control of the North Pacific. He 
agreed, too, that the difficult terrain and lack of overland transportation 
virtually precluded a major land invasion. He recognized the need for a large 
measure of local autonomy for the isolated garrisons in the interior and at 
the widely separate strategic spots along the coast. But, despite these similar- 
ities, General Buckner's estimate of the situation differed significantly from 
previous ones of War Department planners in two respects. First, he gave 
greater emphasis to the threat which air power posed to the security of the 
territory, accepting it as axiomatic that an attack against Alaska would prob- 
ably be launched without warning — a sudden air strike against the vulnerable 
coastal area. Second, he thought in terms of an aggressive concept of defense 
under which Alaska would be used as a base for the projection of American 
military power into the western Pacific. He concluded that not only the suc- 
cessful defense of Alaska but also any value it might have as a staging area 
for Pacific warfare would depend on superiority in the air, backed by ade- 
quate land bases strongly protected by ground troops. In other words Gen- 
eral Buckner, although a ground officer, visualized Alaska as an air theater. 
Consequently, without minimizing the need for strong ground forces, he 
gave the air arm a place of primary importance and outlined a program 
which emphasized strengthening the air defenses of the territory. 46 

General Buckner's plan called for building advanced operating bases 
for bomber planes in western Alaska, including the Aleutian chain; con- 
structing auxiliary fields near the existing main bases to prevent the undue 
massing of aircraft with consequent danger from bombing attack; connecting 
the United States and Alaska by a chain of landing fields; developing inter- 
mediate bases to facilitate the movement of aircraft to and within the terri- 
tory; establishing an aircraft warning service; and maintaining in the United 
States a reserve of both combat and transport aircraft equipped for cold 
weather flying for the prompt reinforcement of Alaska in an emergency. It 
followed that the remainder of his program was designed primarily to protect 
and support the air arm. He recommended stationing a balanced defensive 
garrison at each main base, advanced base, and important link in the chain 

46 Ltr, Hq ADF to CG Ninth Corps Area, 3 Sep 40, and 2d Ind, CG Fourth Army to TAG, 
27 Sep 40, AG 320.2 (9-3-40). 



of fields from Seattle; storing sufficient supplies at each base to last at least 
three months; constructing bombproof storage space for all vital supplies 
and, where possible, planes; bombproofing the installations of the Alaska 
Communication System and furnishing each station with generators which 
would make it independent of local power plants; arranging for the move- 
ment of ground troops, properly outfitted with cold weather clothing and 
equipment, to Alaskan garrisons in an emergency; building a military road 
connecting Anchorage with the Richardson Highway; and constructing the 
railroad cut-off from Portage to the Passage Canal to eliminate dependence 
on the most vulnerable portion of the Alaskan Railroad. 47 

General Buckner's recommendation in October 1940 that an Army air 
base be established in the vicinity of Dutch Harbor was the first step toward 
the projection of Army air power into the Aleutians. In submitting this rec- 
ommendation, he observed that a limited reconnaissance had not revealed 
a good site for an Army airfield in the immediate vicinity of the naval base, 
but that a suitable site for an emergency field for pursuit planes existed at 
Chernofski Bay on Unalaska. 48 The Navy objected to his proposal, arguing 
that construction costs would be unduly high because of the rugged terrain ; 
that there would be no economy, since the Army and Navy air bases at Una- 
laska could not possibly be located close enough to use any of the same facil- 
ities or defenses; and that an Army air base on Chernofski Bay would be ex- 
posed to the same danger as Dutch Harbor, that is, quick raids from the sea. 49 

At the beginning of 1941 the War Plans Division was equally opposed 
to the Unalaska project, maintaining that "aerial patrol along the Aleutian 
chain can best be accomplished by tender-based aircraft and that, for the 
present at least, responsibility for aerial surveillance of that area should 
remain a Navy function/' 50 And three months later the Army Air Corps also 
agreed that under existing circumstances it was inadvisable to build an air 
base near Unalaska. 51 

General Buckner and General DeWitt refused to acknowledge defeat. 
They clung tenaciously to their position that air power based on Unalaska 
was necessary for the Army to fulfill its mission. Since surveys revealed that 
the terrain at Unalaska was not suitable for a landing field for the Army's 

47 ibid. 

48 Memo, CG ADF for CG Fourth Army, 9 Oct 40, WDC-ADC 381, Def of Alaska, Gen 
vol. II. 

49 Ltr, COMALSEC Thirteenth Naval District to CNO, 29 Oct 40, WDC-ADC 381 Def of 
Alaska, Gen, sec II. 

50 Memo, WPD for TAG, 8 Jan 41, WPD 4239-2 1. 

51 5th Ind, OCofAC for TAG, 8 Apr 41, on Memo, WPD for TAG, 8 Jan 41, WPD 4239-21. 



heavy bombers, they proposed that an all-purpose Army air base be built 
at Otter Point on Umnak Island, sixty-five miles west of Dutch Harbor, to 
be supported by intermediate fields for fighter planes at Port Heiden and 
Cold Bay on the Alaska Peninsula. 52 General DeWitt, who had just returned 
from an inspection trip to Alaska, informed the Chief of Staff that he felt 
"if possible, stronger than ever that we must have our air field in the vicinity 
of Dutch Harbor, and intermediate fields between Dutch Harbor and 
Kodiak." He continued: 

I am sorry that there is unanimity of opinion in the War Department against such 
action, but I am quite sure that if those opposed would visit the area as I did and 
visualize the conditions that can easily, and I feel sure will exist in case of war, that they 
will come to the same conclusion. The recent operations in the Mediterranean area, 
particularly Crete, involving the use of parachute and airborne troops, would seem to 
clinch the argument 53 

After additional surveys of the area, General Buckner submitted a request 
for all-purpose air bases at both Otter Point and Cold Bay, with staging fields 
at Port Heiden and Sand Point. 54 General DeWitt indorsed General Buck- 
ner's recommendation (except as to the Sand Point field), and in doing so 
noted: "I look upon this paper as the most important paper I now have to 
act upon in connection with the defense of Alaska." 55 

The urgency of General DeWitt's request arose from an acute concern 
for the security of Alaska following Germany's attack on the Soviet Union, 
and the attendant uncertainty of Japan's future moves as an Axis partner, 
Japan itself appeared to be caught in a vise of conflicting interests and in- 
compatible objectives. On the one hand, a nonaggression pact with the Soviet 
Union bound Japan to remain neutral under the existing circumstances. On 
the other hand, the Tripartite Pact might be used by Germany to persuade 
Japan to furnish active aid to the Axis. And it was not inconceivable that 
Japan in self-interest would construe the pact as a mandate for launching 
an attack on its own. Although intelligence reports indicated that Japanese 
forces were being deployed southward, away from Siberia, the moment 
might seem propitious to the Japanese for realizing their long-standing ambi- 
tion to acquire the Russian maritime provinces. G-2 urged the War Plans 
Division to make provision for a long-range air patrol over the waters north 

52 Ltr, Gen DeWitt to CofS, 2 Jun 41, WDC 381 Dutch Harbor, Unalaska. 

53 Ltr, Gen DeWitt to Gen Marshall, 4 Jun 41, WDC-ADC 381 Def of Alaska, Gen, vol. IV. 

54 Exhibits B, C, and F, Lt?; Hq ADC to CG ADC, 5 Jul 41, WDC-ADC 686, vol. Ill; Rad, 
CG ADC to CG Fourth Army, 9 Jul 41, WDC-ADC 381 Def of Alaska, Gen, vol. IV. 

55 Memo, Gen DeWitt for DCofS WDC, 18 Jul 41, WDC-ADC 686, vol. III. 



of the Bering Strait, and also recommended that, if possible, arrangements 
be made with the Soviet Union for the joint use of naval and air bases at 
Petropavlovsk, the Komandorski Islands, and Anadyr Bay. 56 Pending a clari- 
fication of the new situation as it might affect the Pacific area, General 
Marshall, after conferences with his principal staff officers, limited immedi- 
ate War Department action to an alert of the Alaska and Panama commands 
on 3 July. General DeWitt passed on word to General Buckner to alert all 
of his garrisons against the "increasing danger of total Russian collapse 
and subsequent possibility of Axis operations in direction of Alaska"; and, 
as already noted, the Army built up its ground force strengths as rapidly as 
it could during the summer. 57 

One step taken by General Buckner after he received the alert was an 
offshore patrol by Army planes from Bristol Bay to Point Barrow, and he 
asked the Navy to perform a similar mission from Ketchikan to Dutch 
Harbor. When informed that the means for a naval patrol was lacking — 
at the time the Navy had only three patrol planes in Alaskan waters — Gen- 
eral Buckner decided to maintain a patrol himself insofar as his means per- 
mitted. 58 His actions were contrary to current doctrine for the employment 
of air power by the services, which delegated the mission of offshore recon- 
naissance to the Navy. Even though the Navy was unable to fulfill its mis- 
sion and the local naval commander raised no objections to General Buckner's 
course of action, it aroused some criticisms in Washington. 59 General DeWitt 
vigorously defended the establishment of an Army offshore patrol as "not 
only a proper military precautionary measure but a necessary one," and added 
that "the action demonstrated the pressing need for additional Army air 
units and modern planes (which have been repeatedly requested) and for 
adequate Naval forces (which are not now assigned to Alaska) for offshore 
and inshore patrol. " 60 

One consequence of the July alert and of General Buckner's decision to 
patrol the waters north of Bering Strait was the development and garrison- 
ing of an air base on the Seward Peninsula at Nome much earlier than had 

56 Memo, G-2 for WPD, 26 Jun 41, OPD Exec 8, bk, A. 

57 Gerow Diary, entry of 3 Jul 41, OPD Exec 10, item r; Rad, TAG to Fourth Army, 3 Jul 
41, and Rad, C G Fourth Army to CG ADC, 4 Jul 41, both in AG 580.81 (7-30-41). For the 
Panama alert, see Ich. XIIII below, 

58 Rad, CG ADC to CG WDC, 11 Jul 41, and Rad, CG WDC to CG ADC, 14 Jul 41, both 
in WDC-ADC 381 Gen, vol. IV. 

59 Memo, CNO for CofS, 21 Aug 41, and other papers, in AG 580.81 (7-30-41). 

60 2d Ind, CG WDC to TAG, 11 Sep 41, on Ltr, TAG to CG Fourth Army, 4 Sep 41, AG 
580.81 (7-30-41). 



previously been planned. The Nome airfield was scheduled to be built by 
the Civil Aeronautics Authority, but on orders from Washington the Army 
Engineers moved in and began construction on 23 July. A ground garrison 
of 9 officers and 221 enlisted men arrived on 3 September to protect the 
Nome base. 61 

The July alert exposed the weakness of Alaska's air defenses, and three 
months later General DeWitt found them in no better shape. The authorized 
airfields were not ready, none of the units of the approved aircraft warning 
system was in operation, and not a single modern Army plane had been 
sent to Alaska. General DeWitt summarized the situation very bluntly when 
he wrote: "Our mere establishment of Army garrisons in Alaska with no 
means for them to know what may lie just over the horizon, does not con- 
form to any known principle of strategy, military or naval." 62 

In October General Buckner submitted to General DeWitt a general plan 
for the employment of aviation in Alaska which contained another strong 
plea for "a chain of advanced air bases, generally south along the coast of 
Alaska from Nome to Naknek, thence westward on the Alaskan Peninsula 
to Umnak Island and from Kodiak generally east to Annette Island. " 63 The 
Army Air Forces and the War Department General Staff finally agreed on 
21 November to go ahead with the Aleutian airfield project, and on their 
recommendation, the Joint Planning Committee proposed to the Joint Board 
that the Army "proceed with the construction of port facilities, airdromes 
and defenses at Umnak, Port Heiden, and Cold Bay," The Joint Board ap- 
proved this recommendation on 26 November, and on 11 December, four 
days after the Pearl Harbor attack, General DeWitt was directed to build 
the Umnak field and related facilities as quickly as possible. 64 

Airfields, Radar, and the Construction Program 

While the question of extending Army airfields into the Aleutian Islands 
was under consideration, the remainder of the airfield construction program 
went forward as planned, though more slowly than anticipated. The Army 

61 Memo, TAG to CG Fourth Army, 18 Jul 41, AG 600.12 (8-24-39); Memo, WPD for 
CofAAF, 19 Jul 41, WPD 4297-3; Official Hist of the Alaskan Dept, ch. XXI. 

62 Ltr, CG WDC to TAG, 27 Oct 41, WPD 4414-7. 

63 Ltr, CG ADC to CG WDC, 1 Oct 41, WDC 381/32 ADC, pt. I. 

64 Memo, ACofS WPD for Exec Officer WPD, 21 Nov 41, and Ltr, JPC to JB, 24 Nov 41. 
Both in WPD 4503. Min, JB Mtg, 26 Nov 41 (in re JB 312, ser 718), Pearl Harbor Attack, 
pt. 15, p. 1641; Rad, TAG to CG WDC, 11 Dec 41, WDC file, Construction of Umnak Airfield. 



was concerned during 1941 over progress at the supplementary airfields 
being constructed by the Civil Aeronautics Administration. This organization 
shared responsibility for the military development of these airfields with the 
Army, and this division of responsibility did not work out entirely satisfac- 
torily. As a result, the Corps of Engineers was asked to investigate the pos- 
sibility of taking over the supplementary airfield construction program. 65 

In conjunction with the investigation Mr. Marshall Hoppin, the admini- 
stration's local superintendent of airways, stated that contracts had been let 
for Boundary, Big Delta, Cordova, Juneau, Ruby, and Nome and that com- 
pletion of these fields was expected prior to 1 January 1942. Plans and 
specifications had been prepared for Bethel, Gulkana, McGrath, and Naknek. 
He anticipated that these fields would be well along toward completion by 
1 January 1942, if fiscal year 1942 funds were made available immediately. 
He added that single runways 300 by 3,500 feet were under construction, 
or would be under construction shortly, at Farewell, Kenai, Lake Minchu- 
mina, Seward, Homer, Nenana, and one or two other locations. He believed 
that all of these runways, except Homer, would be completed by the fall of 
1 94 1. Engineer officers who were studying the merits of the proposed change 
concluded that, since all Army first priority fields were either under construc- 
tion or would soon be under contract, sufficiently good progress had been 
made to warrant continuing civilian control of the program. 66 

The Army had intended to develop an aircraft warning system in Alaska 
as soon as it could. Signal Corps and Engineer officers began planning for 
such a system during the summer of 1940. Well aware of the fact that both 
equipment and funds were limited, the planners proposed that it be com- 
pleted in two stages. They recommended that initially detector stations be 
established to warn of the approach of hostile planes toward the naval bases 
at Sitka, Kodiak, and Dutch Harbor and either by land or sea toward 
Anchorage. They suggested that at a later date the War Department provide 
means for the protection of Fairbanks and to detect the approach of hostile 
planes over Norton Sound and up the Yukon and the Kuskokwim River 
valleys. 67 

The initial aircraft warning plan called for the construction of 8 detec- 
tor stations and one information center in Alaska at locations to be proposed 
by General DeWitt, and on 2 August General Marshall approved the over- 

85 1st Ind, CofEngrs for G-4, 20 Jun 41, AG 600.12 (8-24-39). 

66 Memo, Lt Col W. F. Tompkins, for G-4, 28 Jun 41, AG 600.12 (8-24-39). 

67 2d Ind, OCSigO for WPD, 31 Jul 40, on Memo, WPD for CofEngrs and CSigO, 18 Jul 40, 
WDC-ADC 660.2. 



all project. 68 Only 3 of the 8 specific locations for detectors originally pro- 
posed proved acceptable, and additional surveys had to be made to determine 
the best location for the other 5 stations. 69 In the course of this study, it 
became evident that 8 stations would not provide adequate coverage for 
Alaska, since the original recommendation had been based on an overopti- 
mistic estimate of the capacity of the early radar sets which experience did not 
substantiate. General DeWitt accordingly submitted a revised aircraft warn- 
ing project to the Chief of Staff which called for at least 10 and preferably 
14 detector stations. On 28 January 1941 the Secretary of War approved a 
project for the establishment of 12 such stations in Alaska, all south of Cape 
Prince of Wales. 70 Subsequently, in October, the Alaskan commander rec- 
ommended and the War Department approved an enlargement of this 
project to 20 stations. None of them was complete or in operation before the 
outbreak of war, principally because of equipment shortages and construc- 
tion difficulties. 71 

There was widespread criticism during 1941 of the whole military con- 
struction program in Alaska. This criticism was only partially justified. 
While it is true that a number of projects were not completed on schedule, 
unusually difficult and highly complex problems were involved. The unde- 
veloped state of Alaskan resources, the small civilian labor force, and the 
poor interior transportation system meant that almost all supplies and most 
workmen had to be brought in from the United States. The job of transport- 
ing material from the ports to inland construction projects was prodigious. 
The Alaska Defense Command also suffered from a chronic lack of strategic 
materials and construction equipment. The priorities system established by 
the War Department early in 1941 benefited Alaska little since it held a very 
low priority until September 194 1. Furthermore, in many places construc- 
tion had to be confined to the short summer season. Varying and harsh 
weather lessened the efficiency of both men and machines. 

A cumbersome and unwieldy administrative system also hampered con- 
struction. Design and procurement were carried on thousands of miles from 
the site of the work. Local commanders lacked the authority to make changes 
in these plans, and all field requests for modifications had to be referred to 
headquarters for approval. Initially the area engineer and the Alaskan com- 

68 Memo, WPD for CofS, 31 Jul 40, AG 660.2 AA. 

09 Note for Red on Memo, WPD for TAG, 28 Jan 41, WPD 3640-6. 

70 Memo, WPD for TAG, 28 Jan 41, WPD 3640-6. 

71 Ltr, TAG to CG WDC, 7 Jan 42, and other papers, in WDC-ADC 660.2 AWS-46. 



mander at Anchorage, the district engineer at Seattle, and the Ninth Corps 
Area commander at San Francisco had to approve all plans. In an effort to 
simplify this procedure, the War Department in December 1940 placed all 
Alaskan military construction directly under the supervision of General 
DeWitt. 72 Nevertheless, the construction program remained bogged down 
in administrative red tape. On 28 November 1941 General Buckner, replying 
to an inquiry from the Chief of Staff as to how best the War Department 
could facilitate construction in Alaska, wrote as follows: 

The most effective measure of assistance which you can render us in our building 
program is a greater degree of decentralization. In many cases it takes a great deal longer 
to get a construction measure approved after the appropriations are made than it does to 
do the actual building. Our Area Engineer here put it very aptly when he said that 
quick-drying cement did him very' little good in speeding up construction unless some 
quick-drying ink was used on the approval of his plans.™ 

General Marshall referred General Buckner's comment to G-4 for study and 
review. War gave new urgency to the construction program, and in late De- 
cember the Chief of Staff informed the Alaskan commander that "both the 
Commanding General, Western Defense Command, and the Chief of En- 
gineers have been instructed to take such steps as may be necessary to decen- 
tralize control of all construction matters to the greatest possible extent." 
The Chief of Staff added that "construction directives are also specifying 
[that the] greatest possible latitude should be given to local commanders 
in the matter of layouts and type of structure, compatible with procurement 
and shipping dictates." 74 

Reinforcing the Air Defenses 

Alaska was the last of the overseas departments to receive Army combat 
planes. As late as August 1940 General Arnold said that there was no pros- 
pect of sending any planes at all to Alaska during that year. Subsequently, 
Generals Buckner and DeWitt argued vehemently for deployment of some 
defensive air power to Alaska. On 5 September General Arnold agreed to 
send one pursuit squadron, one bombardment squadron, and one-half of 
the base group of the 28th Composite Group to Alaska. This force was 
scheduled to arrive at Elmendorf Field about 1 5 November. 75 The day after 

72 Memo, Col Chamberlin, for ACofS G-4, 18 Oct 41, WDC-ADC 686, vol. II. 

73 Ltr, Gen Buckner to Gen Marshall, 28 Nov 41, AG 600.12 (11-28-41). 

74 Ltr, Gen Marshall to Gen Buckner, 29 Dec 41, AG 600.12 (1 1-2 8-41). 

75 Memo, Lt Col Orlando Ward, SGS for WPD, 5 Sep 40, OCS 20834-36. 



General Arnold made this decision he was obliged to announce that, because 
the planes he proposed to send were not ready, "he had arranged with the 
GHQ Air Force to send two groups from the GHQ Air Forces, and the 
Alaska squadrons, when ready, would be assigned to the GHQ Air Forces." 76 
Actually, no Army combat planes reached Alaska until after the decision 
by President Roosevelt in January 1941 to stand on the defensive in the 
Pacific with the fleet based on Hawaii. 77 In February Secretary Stimson pub- 
licly announced some of the measures being taken by the United States to 
strengthen the Panama-Hawaii-Alaska defense line, and stressed prepara- 
tions under way to send three new units of Army aircraft to Alaska. And, 
Mr. Stimson added, "from my knowledge of what is going on in Japan, I 
think this reinforcement of the northwest frontier will be of interest to the 
Japs." 78 

As a result the Alaska Defense Command received its first combat air- 
craft. At the end of February the 23d Air Base Group, the 18th Pursuit 
Squadron equipped with 20 P-36's, and the headquarters squadron of the 
28th Composite Group reached Elmendorf Field. This force was followed 
in March by the 73d Bombardment Squadron, Medium, and the 36th Bom- 
bardment Squadron, Heavy, equipped with a total of 12 B-i8A's. On 29 
May the Air Field Forces, Alaska Defense Command, was formed from these 
units. 79 This was a token force, wholly inadequate to perform its assigned 
mission, a fact duly noted at the time of the July alert. The entire Army air 
force in Alaska then consisted of 38 planes, and all of its combat planes were 
obsolescent or obsolete. 80 

During the July emergency General Buckner argued vehemently, but 
unsuccessfully, for air reinforcements, writing: 

My immediate concern is to build up an air force sufficiently strong to make any 
hostile expedition against Alaskan shores so hazardous a venture as to remove it from 
the realm of probability. This accomplished , our Navy can be released from the task of 
furnishing us with constant protection and will be free to operate elsewhere. 

At the present time, all of our coastal stations can be taken one by one by hostile 
expeditions outnumbering them, since there is no way of reinforcing them during an 
attack except by air. Our air strength is at present negligible and the prospects for 
prompt reinforcement somewhat scant. I am informed that we are soon to be reinforced 
by ground troops but that Air Corps reinforcements are not contemplated in the near 
future. Under present conditions, I would rather have an additional heavy bombardment 

76 Min, Conf in Office of DCofS, 6 Sep 40, OCS Misc Conf, binder 3. 

77 See Conn and Fairchild, Framework of Hemisphere Defense, p. 95. 

78 Stimson Diary, entry of 27 Feb 41. 

79 Craven and Cate, eds., Plans and Early Operations, p. 166. 

80 Memo, Cof AS for WPD, 20 Aug 41, WPD 4464-7- 



squadron than a division of ground troops. The time to strike hostile expeditions is 
when their troops are crowded in transports and their planes on the decks of carriers. I 
have communicated this desire to General DeWitt and he is of similar opinion. 81 

Although General Buckner s request received the sympathetic approval of 
the Air Staff, the War Department, for a variety of reasons, was unable to 
take action. The continuously expanding Army air program was making 
heavy demands on existing forces for training purposes. Army air units sta- 
tioned in Newfoundland and Iceland competed with the Alaskan air force for 
the few winterized planes on hand. Neither the Air Staff nor the other sec- 
tions of the War Department considered the threat to Alaskan security in 
July 1941 sufficiently acute to deploy air units earmarked for other overseas 
outposts to the Alaska Defense Command. The War Department's point of 
view was expressed in a letter from General Marshall to General Buckner in 
which the Chief of Staff said: 

The War Department is appreciative of the importance of your problem and is 
doing everything, consistent with the general situation, to meet your needs. Your com- 
mand has been given a high priority for aircraft and we are trying to find ways and 
means to meet your needs in this respect. Deliveries to Alaska have been delayed because 
of more pressing demands in the Philippines, which, due to the critical situation in the 
Orient, have been placed in a higher priority than Alaska. I am advised today of the 
following proposed schedule of deliveries of aircraft to Alaska: 
Bombardment (M) B-26 Series 
Sep 1941 — 18 
Mar 1942 — 3 
May 1942 — 5 
Bombardment (H) B-17 Series 
Feb 1942 — 8 
Jun 1942—5 
Oct 1942 — 3 
Pursuit Interceptor P-40 Series 
Sep 1941 — 4 
Oct 1 94 1 — 21 
Aug. 1942 — 6 

I am sorry that existing circumstances prohibit some expeditious actions on your 
requests. 82 

Nor were the planes scheduled for delivery in 1941 actually sent before the 
war began. 

In the fall of 1941, the Navy's air power in the Alaskan area was even 
more meager than the Army's. At the end of October 1941 General DeWitt 
reported that "there is an OS2U-2 plane at Sitka, a J2F at Kodiak, and an 

81 Ltr, Gen Buckner to Gen Marshall, 24 Jul 41, AG 452.1 (7-24-41). 

82 Ltr, Gen Marshall to Gen Buckner, 23 Sep 41, OCS 14943-60. 


OS2U-1 awaiting transportation to Dutch Harbor. From time to time a 
squadron of five or six patrol planes have been based in Alaska for training 
purposes, but these are not permanent. . . 83 Capt. Ralph C. Parker, com- 
mander of the Alaskan Sector, appealed to the Navy Department for dive 
bombers to reinforce his air component. Since the Army could not secure 
air reinforcements, General Buckner endorsed the request with the admission 
"We swallow our pride . . . and like it." 84 The Navy Department, as short 
of planes as the Army, had to reject Captain Parker's request. Throughout 
1941 naval air forces in Alaska remained wholly inadequate to perform their 
mission of long-range offshore patrol. 

As the prospect of war between the United States and Japan increased 
in November 1941, all agencies responsible for Alaskan defense stepped up 
their request for air reinforcements, but the War Department was unable 
to take any action. As General Arnold said: "... we are doing everything 
possible we can to increase the number of trained squadrons and groups 
available for these missions. At the present time we have just about hit 
bottom." 85 

On the Alert 

The Joint Board's decision on the extension of Army air power into the 
Aleutians came on the very eve of the War Department's warning that Japan 
was likely to begin hostilities soon. General DeWitt promptly ordered Gen- 
eral Buckner to put the Alaska Defense Command on a full alert. 86 

Thanks to what had been done in the preceding year and a half, General 
Buckner now had available a sizable ground force of approximately 20,000 
men. Fort Richardson, the main Army base, had been completed. The four 
major airfields in southeastern and central Alaska — Annette Island (Met- 
lakatla), Yakutat, Elmendorf, and Ladd — were in operation. Army posts 
had been established for the protection of the naval installations at Sitka, 
Kodiak, and Dutch Harbor. There were garrisons at Seward and Nome, and 
a small force still remained at Chilkoot Barracks near Skagway. A beginning, 
at least, had been made in improving communications both within and to 
Alaska. Improvements to the Alaska Railroad were being pushed. The Can- 

83 Memo, CG WDC for TAG, 27 Oct 41, WPD 4414-7. 

84 1st Ind, Hq ADC to COMALSEC, Seventeenth Naval District, 14 Nov 41, on Memo, 
COMALSEC, Thirteenth Naval District, for CG ADC, 14 Nov 41, ADC 452,2. 

85 Memo, DCofS for Air for WPD, 1 Dec 41, WPD 4464-7. 

86 Rad, CG WDC to CofS, 28 Nov 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 14, p. 1330. 


Naval Base at Kodiak 

adian Government, as part of its collaboration in the defense of North 
America, had undertaken to provide aircraft staging facilities between 
Alaska and the continental United States; by December 1941 five airfields 
along this Northwest Staging Route, as it was called, were usable under 
optimum conditions. 87 

The most serious weakness of the Alaskan defenses was the lack of air 
power. Alaska still had only the 12 B-18 bombers and 20 P-36 pursuit 
planes provided in the spring of 1941, and only 6 of these planes were ready 
for combat action on 7 December 1 941. 88 The aircraft warning system, also, 
was far from complete. Although the program had been under way for 
almost a year, the original goal had been too optimistic. No one had realized 
what a tremendous job it would be to install and maintain detector sets in the 
rugged, isolated locations which had been selected for most of them. 89 Other 
major flaws in the defenses, noted by two representatives of War Plans Divi- 

87 See Conn and Fairchild, Framework of Hemisphere Defense, ch. XIV. 

88 Craven and Cate, eds., Plans and Operations, pp. 170, 276. 

89 Hist of WDC vol. Ill, ch. 10, Incl. 8, pp. 1-2. 



sion only three days before the Pearl Harbor raid, were the vulnerability of 
housing to aerial bombing, the inadequacy of antiaircraft artillery, insuffi- 
cient access roads, shortages of certain types of ammunition, and the lack 
of adequate local storage facilities. The War Plans Division inspectors 
recommended that the War Department review Alaskan defense projects 
with a view toward remedying these deficiencies as soon as possible. 90 

When the assault on Pearl Harbor brought war to the United States, the 
Alaska Defense Command was ready for a minor enemy attack, though not 
for a surprise raid. It would have been unable to resist a major enemy assault, 
but a major assault was not to be expected. 

90 Memo, Col Tully for Gen Gerow, WPD, 4 Dec 41, WPD 3512-148; Memo, Lt Col Nelson 
M. Walker for ACofS G-3, 5 Dec 41, AG 381 (12-5-41). 


Alaska in the War, 1942. 

The slashing Japanese attack in the western and central Pacific in De- 
cember 1941 opened the prospect of a more active military role for Alaska, 
especially if the Soviet Union became involved in the new Pacific war. Even 
before the Japanese struck, the United States had been hoping to obtain 
the use of Soviet air bases in the Vladivostok area, and, if Japan now 
attacked the maritime provinces of Siberia, the military collaboration of 
American and Soviet forces in the North Pacific appeared inevitable. 

The Soviet Union, desperately involved against Germany in Europe, had 
neither the desire nor the resources for a two-front war if it could be avoided, 
although Marshal Joseph Stalin at first indicated that the Russians might 
be ready for some sort of positive action against Japan by the spring of 1942. 1 
As the new year opened, both General Buckner in Alaska and the military 
planners in Washington wanted to push the development of an air route 
through Alaska that would permit the operation of American aircraft from 
Russian bases against Japan, and President Roosevelt himself was keenly 
interested in the proposal. 2 The President was also concerned about the 
danger of a Japanese raid on the new military installations in Alaska, more 
concerned, indeed, than were his military advisers. In mid-February he indi- 
cated his desire for a ''complete plan" for establishing a striking force in 
Alaska and the Aleutian Islands and in pushing the execution of this plan 
as far as possible by midsummer. 3 

Taking into account the military situation in the western Pacific at the 
end of January 1942, the Army and Navy commanders in Alaska recom- 
mended a more specific plan for attacking Japan by way of the North Pacific. 
Noting that the other approaches to Japan were already protected by land- 

1 Notes on Conf in OCofS, to Dec 41, OCS Conf, binder 29; Memo, G-2 for CofS, 20 Dec 41, 
WPD 4557-35- See also Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941-42, pp. 142-46. 

2 Notes on Confs at White House, 28 Dec 41 and 28 Jan 42, in WDCSA 334 Mtgs and Confs 
(1-28-42) ; Memo, CG ADC for CG WDC and Fourth Army, 3 Jan 42, AG 381 (12-5-41) (2) ; 
various papers, dated 9-27 Jan 42, in WPD 4557-43. 

3 Memo, CofS for President Roosevelt, 21 Jan 42, WPD 3512-151 ; Memo of Harry Hopkins, 
16 Feb 42, Calendar of Hopkins Papers, bk V, item 7. 



based aviation, they advocated the establishment as soon as possible of strik- 
ing bases on the Siberian mainland and Sakhalin Island, and the develop- 
ment of a secure convoy route to the Russian naval base at Petropavlovsk on 
the Kamchatka Peninsula. Their plan would involve rushing work on the 
airfields already under construction in Alaska, improving the air route via 
Nome and across Bering Strait, and establishing a string of seaplane bases, 
to be protected by Army garrisons, in the Aleutians beyond Dutch Harbor 
and Umnak. It would also require a large air and ground reinforcement of 
Alaska, and immediate negotiation with the Russians to permit the develop- 
ment and use of Siberian bases. 4 

General DeWitt, in forwarding this proposal to Washington, concurred 
in its general concept, but he noted that the better part of a year would be 
needed to construct the facilities necessary for executing the plan and that, 
before Alaska could become a useful base for offensive operations, its success- 
ful defense must be assured. In Washington, Admiral King observed that 
the development of aviation facilities in Alaska was already well ahead of 
the ability of the War and Navy Departments to supply them with aircraft 
and that new and undefended air bases would be more of a liability than 
an asset. For the time being he was firmly opposed to the extension of aviation 
facilities in the Aleutians beyond Umnak, and indeed to any other prepara- 
tions for offensive operations from Alaska until the Russians indicated a 
willingness to permit the operation of American planes from Siberian bases. 5 

While the plan of the Alaskan commanders for an offensive from Alaska 
was still under review, the President in early March asked for further study 
of the feasibility of opening the Aleutian route to Siberia, so that it could be 
used if Japan attacked the Soviet Union. 6 By March it was fairly evident that 
the Russians were not going to enter the Pacific war on their own initiative 
as long as they were heavily engaged in Europe, and therefore that they were 
very unlikely to give the Japanese cause for attack by opening their Far 
Eastern bases to American ships and planes, or even by letting Americans 
reconnoiter these bases as a step toward future offensive action from them. 
By the end of the month the Army and Navy had concluded, and so advised 
the President, that while the Alaskan air route via Nome might be used to 
deliver planes and other supplies to the Soviet Union, or to reinforce Russian 
air forces in Siberia if the Japanese attacked, it would be futile to do any more 

4 Paper, prepared by CG ADC and COMALSEC Thirteenth Naval District, 31 Jan 42, title: 
Joint Army-Navy Plans for Alaska, WDCSA 381 War Plans. 

5 Memo, CG WDC for CG FF, 21 Feb 42 ; Memo, COMINCH for CNO, 21 Feb 42. Both in 
OPD 381. 

6 Memo, President Roosevelt to Adm Stark and Gen Marshall, 4 Mar 42, ABC 381 (1-23-42), 



planning toward these ends until the President was able to conclude an 
agreement with Marshal Stalin for military collaboration. General Buckner 
was informed that for the present his forces would have to remain on the 
strategic defensive and that he could expect only a modest augmentation of 
these forces and for defensive purposes only. 7 


Alaska became part of a designated theater of operations with the acti- 
vation of the Western Defense Command on u December 1941, although 
under the restriction that General DeWitt as theater commander could not 
move major ground or air units from the west coast to Alaska without War 
Department consent. Before the month was over General Buckner had rec- 
ommended that he be given unity of command over all military forces in 
Alaska, and the Army Air Forces had proposed that General Buckner be 
replaced by an Air Forces general officer since the Alaskan Defense Com- 
mand area would be predominately an air theater so far as the Army was 
concerned. Neither proposal was approved, and the command of Alaskan 
forces remained unchanged until an active enemy threat developed in May 
1942. 8 

At the outbreak of war the Army garrison in Alaska numbered about 
21,500 officers and enlisted men. During the next five months this total nearly 
doubled, to a strength of 40,424 by the end of April 1942, considerably 
more than had been planned in the first wartime troop basis for the Alaska 
Defense Command. 9 A considerable proportion of this total was accounted 
for by engineer troops needed to rush construction work at the new Alaskan 
air bases. Getting combat planes to these bases was a more difficult matter. 

As noted in the preceding chapter, Alaska had no Army planes fit for 
combat when the Pacific war began. By 11 December a squadron each of 
modern pursuit and medium bombardment planes was being winterized for 
flight to Alaska, and the planes began to move at the beginning of January 
by way of the Northwest Staging Route of airfields built by the Canadians 
from Alberta northward. A number of these planes crashed en route, princi- 

7 IncI A, JCS 16/2, 19 Jun 42, and other papers in ABC 381 (1-23-42) ; Memo, WPD for 
TAG, 24 Mar 42, WDCSA 381 War Plans. 

8 Memo, OCofS for TAG, 11 Dec 41, AG 320.2 (12-11-41) (2); Rad, CG ADC to CG 
WDC, 22 Dec 41, ADC 381, vol. II; Memo, ACofAS for CofS, 27 Dec 41, and other papers in 
AGF 320.2 Alaska, binder 1. 

9 Strength of the Army, 1 Nov 47, p. 42; Troop Basis Chart, ADC, 26 Jan 42, AG 320.2 


pally because of the inexperience of the pilots who flew them, and in early 
March only half the pursuits and a quarter of the bombers that had been 
sent were in shape for combat duty. The losses sustained in this emergency 
movement were primarily responsible for President Roosevelt's decision in 
early February to build a highway to Alaska by way of the airfields of the 
Northwest Staging Route. 10 

In response to General De Witt's pleas for a much larger air reinforce- 
ment, the War Department in March announced plans for providing Alaska 
as soon as possible with five combat squadrons equipped with modern planes, 
two each of pursuit and medium bombardment and one of heavy bombard- 
ment planes. The actual strength in Alaska by the end of April was about 
a squadron each of pursuit and medium bombardment, and one B-17 heavy 
bombardment plane. These planes were all stationed at the Anchorage and 
Kodiak airfields and could not be moved westward to the new Alaska Pe- 
ninsula and Umnak air bases then nearing completion without stripping the 
heart of the Alaskan military establishment of its means of air defense. 11 

The relative weakness of Army air forces in Alaska was compounded by 
slow progress in installing an aircraft warning service. In late 1941 the War 
Department had approved a plan calling for 20 radar sets so arranged as to 
guard all vital military installations in Alaska, but commitments to other 
areas after the fighting started made it necessary to reduce this number at 
first to 10 and in March to 5 sets. Brig. Gen. William C. Butler, command- 
ing the newly designated Eleventh Air Force, was then called upon to sub- 
mit a more modest air defense plan to match this allotment. General Butler 
pointed out that an integrated air defense of Alaska controlled from one 
headquarters was not feasible because of the large area to be protected, the 
many mountain ranges which form natural barriers and divide Alaska into 
isolated areas, and the lack of roads and internal communication networks. 
He proposed therefore to organize a series of self-sufficient local air defense 
areas for the protection of the more important airfields and bases. Air de- 
fense for other Alaskan installations would be provided after the defense 
of the three primary areas — Anchorage-Kodiak, Umnak-Dutch Harbor, 
Dixon Entrance-Sitka — and been insured. He therefore proposed to install 
the three detector sets en route at Sitka, at Lazy Bay on Kodiak Island, and 

10 1st Ind, CG WDC to TAG, 11 Dec 41, on Ltr, TAG to CG WDC, 4 Sep 41, ADC 381 
Def Plans, bk. 3; Memo, CG WDC for CG FF, 4 Mar 42, AG 452.1 (7-24-41); Conn and 
Fairchild, Framework of Hem/sphere Defense, p. 394. 

11 Memo, WPD for TAG, 5 Mar 42, WPD 4464-7; OCofS Interoffice Memo, 27 Apr 42, 
WDCSA 452.1. See also Craven and Cate, eds., Plans and Early Operations, pp. 30317. 



at Cape Wislow, Unalaska Island. One SCR-270 (mobile) was in operation 
at Anchorage and an SCR-271 was in operation at Cape Chiniak, Kodiak 
Island, at the time he made this proposal. 12 

A month later the War Department again increased the number of long- 
range radar sets to be allocated to Alaska to ten for planning purposes, and at 
the beginning of May General DeWitt reported a revised air defense plan for 
locating the detectors and establishing a central information center at An- 
chorage and ten regional filter centers to co-ordinate radar and pursuit air- 
craft operations. This was little more than a plan when the Japanese attacked 
in early June, and apparently the only radar operating at that moment was 
the one at Cape Chiniak on Kodiak Island. 13 The arrival in May of four 
radar-equipped heavy bombers made offshore aerial patrols more efficient 
and gave the Army an alternate means of detecting enemy movements on 
the eve of the Japanese approach to the Aleutians. 14 

The Attack on the Aleutians 

The Aleutian Islands extend in a long, sweeping curve for more than 
a thousand miles westward from the tip of the Alaska Peninsula. All of the 
islands are mountainous with no trees and little level ground suitable for 
the construction of airfields. From the shore line jagged peaks rise abruptly 
to an elevation of several thousand feet. The empty trough-shaped valleys 
are covered by tundra, a spongy mat of dead grass, on top of a layer of 
volcanic ash which when wet quickly churns into mud. Aleutian weather is 
notorious. Although the islands are not excessively cold, since they lie well 
below the Arctic Circle, rain, snow, and mist are the rule rather than the 
exception. These bare and almost unpopulated islands are also battered by 
violent winds and are hidden for much of the time in swirling fog. 

On the globe the Aleutian chain appears to provide a natural route of 
approach toward either the continental United States or Japan. But the for- 
bidding weather and wretched terrain made this seemingly natural route all 
but impracticable in 1942. Nevertheless, neither the United States nor Japan 
could afford to assume that the other would reject it as impracticable. 

It will be recalled that the Joint Board in late November 1941 had ap- 
proved the construction of an Army airfield on Umnak Island, not only to 

12 Memo, CG Eleventh Air Force for CG ADC, 24 Mar 42, WDC-ADC 381-32, pt. 1. 

13 Memo, CG WDC for TAG, 1 May 42, and other papers in WDC-ADC 381/32, pt. I. The 
Anchorage set was being reinstalled at Cape Cleare on Montague Island. 

14 Craven and Cate, eds., Plans and Early Operations, p. 309. 



provide local air protection for the naval base at Dutch Harbor, but also 
for the broader purposes of blocking a Japanese advance toward the main- 
land and permitting the projection of Army air power into the more distant 
Aleutians. Army Engineers under the command of Col. Benjamin B. Talley 
began the construction of a runway at Otter Point on the northeastern end 
of Umnak in mid-January 1942 and soon thereafter undertook similar work 
on an intermediate base at Cold Bay near the tip of the Alaska Peninsula, 
where construction of an airfield had been started in 1941 by the Civil Aero- 
nautics Administration. The Umnak base became the Army's Fort Glenn, 
and the Cold Bay base Fort Randall, with Fort Mears, the Army garrison 
for Dutch Harbor, in between. Both of the new fields were usable by 1 April, 
although just barely so. When the enemy approached two months later, 
Umnak had a garrison of about 4,000, Fort Mears of over 6,ooo, and Cold 
Bay of about 2,500, including engineer troops, but also including balanced 
complements of infantry and of field and antiaircraft artillery units. Gen- 
erals Buckner and DeWitt had wanted a much larger combat force for the 
forward base on Umnak but had to be content with the 2,300 or so combat 
troops that the War Department had authorized. 15 

While the Umnak and Cold Bay airfields were being rushed to comple- 
tion, the Japanese High Command was planning to attack and occupy points 
in the Aleutian Islands as part of their "second phase" offensive. By April 
Japanese planners had agreed on the main features of the operation. Japa- 
nese task forces were to undertake a two-pronged drive against Midway and 
the Aleutian Islands in the early part of June. Aside from its diversionary 
aspect to cover the Midway strike, the Aleutian phase of the operations was 
to be purely defensive. After capturing Midway and Kiska, the Japanese 
intended to use them as bases for an aerial patrol of North Pacific waters. 
The islands would also be outposts in a new defense perimeter that would 
be extended in due course to the Samoan and Fiji Islands and New Cale- 
donia. 16 

The enemy knew little of American activities in the Aleutians since the 
war's beginning. The Japanese planners thought the United States had exten- 
sive military installations at Dutch Harbor and smaller garrisons on Adak, 
Kiska, and Attu. They also believed that there were one or two small air- 

15 Ltr, CG ADC to CG WDC, 22 Dec 41, and 2d Ind to same, GHQ to TAG, 19 Feb 42, 
AGF 320.2 Alaska, binder 2; Memo, WPD for SW, 3 Jun 42, WDCSA 000.7 Alaska; Dod, 
"Operations in the War Against Japan," ch. VI, p. 8. 

16 Japanese Monograph 45, pp. 50-53; Japanese Monograph 88, pp. 1-6; Far East History, 
II, 124-25. 



craft carriers as well as cruisers and destroyers operating in Aleutian waters. 
But they knew nothing of the new airfields east and west of Dutch Harbor 
then nearing completion. 17 The Japanese plan for operations issued on 
5 May 1942 reflected this faulty knowledge. Under the plan the Northern 
Area Force, commanded by Vice Adm. Boshiro Hosogaya, was to contain 
three separate task forces to carry out the operation. Leading the attack would 
be the Second Mobile Force, Rear Adm. Kakuji Kakuta commanding, built 
around the two small carriers Junyo and Ryujo, and including two heavy 
cruisers and three destroyers, with the mission of bombing shipping, planes, 
and shore installations at Dutch Harbor and on Adak. It would also provide 
cover for the landing forces, the Adak-Attu Occupation Force consisting of 
an Army detachment of approximately 1,200 troops with naval escort, which 
was first to occupy Adak and destroy United States forces found there, and 
then to withdraw and assist in the occupation of Kiska and Attu, and a 
second group, a special naval landing force of 550 combat and 700 labor 
troops, which was to occupy Kiska. By destroying American bases and 
occupying islands in the outer Aleutians, the Japanese hoped to prevent the 
Americans from launching a sea and air offensive by way of the North Pacific 
and to obstruct military collaboration between the United States and the 
Soviet Union. 18 

From the beginning of hostilities the War Department had recognized 
the vulnerability of the new bases in southern Alaska and particularly of the 
exposed installations in the Dutch Harbor area. Temporarily, Japan's unin- 
terrupted drive into southwestern Pacific and Indian Ocean areas eased con- 
cern over Alaska, but it soon revived. In mid-March G-2 warned that a 
Japanese attempt to seize the Aleutians or raid the mainland of Alaska in 
order to prevent the United States from using the northern approach to Japan 
and to obstruct communication between the United States and the Soviet 
Union could be expected at any time. 19 After the Doolittle raid on Tokyo in 
April, it was generally expected in Washington that the Japanese would 
retaliate by raiding the west coast or Alaska. 

The first definite indication that Alaska would be among the targets in a 
new Japanese offensive eastward was obtained from intercepts in late April. 
These revealed that the Japanese were concentrating striking forces at Truk 

17 Japanese Monograph 46, p. 10; Japanese Monograph 88, pp. 3-4. 

18 Japanese Monograph 46, p. 7; Japanese Monograph 88, pp. 7-8, 20; Morison, Coral Sea, 
Midway and Submarine Actions, pp. 168-69. 

19 MIS, WD Estimate 2, 19 Mar 42, OPD Exec 10, item 29. 


and in home waters, and that the admiral in command at Truk "had just 
requested information and charts from Tokyo on the close-in waters along 
the Aleutians and as far eastward as Kodiak Island and to the north a little 
short of Nome." 20 While Washington interpreted this information as a 
definite threat to Alaska, it also concluded that at least another month would 
pass before the Japanese could attack. On 3 May General DeWitt relayed the 
information to General Buckner and renewed his plea for the assignment of 
a pursuit squadron to the airfield at Umnak, which was now operational. 21 
More intercepts in May pinpointed the Japanese objectives as Midway Island 
and Dutch Harbor, and by 21 May the United States knew fairly accurately 
what the strength of the Japanese Northern Area Force would be and when 
it would strike — 1 June, or shortly thereafter. 22 

The Army and Navy took quick steps to counter the anticipated Japanese 
blow. As a precaution the War Department directed that the Umnak field 
and other facilities in danger of capture be prepared for demolition, but in 
transmitting this order General DeWitt assured General Buckner that 
additional means for defending Fort Glenn would be provided. 23 The Navy 
prepared to reinforce its existing minuscule "Alaskan Navy" by establishing 
a new Task Force 8, under the command of Rear Adm. Robert A. Theobald, 
and assembling its principal components (five cruisers, fourteen destroyers, 
six submarines, and auxiliaries) off Kodiak as rapidly as possible. 2 * On 21 
May General Marshall and Admiral King declared a state of fleet-opposed 
invasion prospectively in effect "until and if invasion in force of Kodiak or 
Continental Alaska become imminent." At the same time they directed that 
all Army and Navy air units then in Alaska should be put into a task force to 
be commanded by the Army's General Butler, who in turn would report to 
the new Task Force 8 commander on his arrival in Alaska. Army ground 
forces were kept under Army command, and General Buckner was to co- 
ordinate their employment with those of naval forces by mutual co-oper- 
ation. 25 When Admiral Theobald reached Kodiak on 27 May, he and Gen- 
eral Buckner agreed to maintain these command relationships unless the 

20 Pers Ltr, Gen Marshall to Gen DeWitt, 29 Apr 42, WDC-ADC 384-7 Separate Envelope. 

21 Rad, CG WDC to CG ADC, 3 May 42 ; Pers Ltr, Gen DeWitt to Gen Marshall, 3 May 42. 
Both in WDC-ADC 384-7 Separate Envelope. 

22 Memo, G-2 for CofS, 17 May 42, OPD 381-42 WDC; Rad, COMINCH to CINCPAC 
(Info copy to CofS), 21 May 42, OPD Exec 8, bk. 5. 

33 Rad, CG WDC to CG ADC, 20 May 42, ADC 381 Def Plans, bk. 4. 

24 Morison, Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Actions, pp. 165-74. 

25 Rad, COMINCH to CINCPAC, 21 May 42; Rad, CINCPAC to COMALSEC al. } 23 May 
42. Both in WDCSA 000.7 Alaska. 



Japanese captured a base in the Umnak-Dutch Harbor-Cold Bay area, in 
which event an invasion of the mainland might be deemed imminent and 
unity of command over land and shore-based defense forces might therefore 
be vested in the Army. 20 These preparations and command arrangements 
reflected a widespread belief among American planners and commanders 
that the Japanese were bent on capturing Dutch Harbor. 

Before Admiral Theobald reached Kodiak, General Butler had begun to 
move Army planes forward to the new Cold Bay and Umnak air bases, where 
adequate supplies of gasoline and bombs had already been stockpiled. By 
i June i heavy and 6 medium bombers and 17 pursuits (now called fighters) 
had reached Fort Glenn on Umnak, and 6 medium bombers and 16 fighters 
were at Cold Bay — all the planes their unfinished airfields were believed 
able to accommodate. On the same day the Navy had 8 radar-equipped patrol 
planes operating from Dutch Harbor. Air reinforcements, including extra 
pilots, were being rushed from the continental west coast to Alaska, to bring 
its strength in modern Army combat planes to 10 heavy and 34 medium 
bombers and 95 fighters. All these planes were for use at Elmendorf Field 
and beyond, since by this time the Royal Canadian Air Force had two squad- 
rons of fighter planes at the Annette Island base in southeastern Alaska (and 
near the British Columbia port of Prince Rupert) and the intermediate 
Yakutat base had no planes assigned. The total Army strength in Alaska 
by 1 June was about 45,000 officers and enlisted men, of whom about 13,000 
were at Fort Randall and the Aleutian bases. 27 

On 25 May the enemy carrier force for the Dutch Harbor assault sortied 
from Ominato in northern Honshu, and thick weather protected its approach 
to the target. A naval patrol plane spotted the enemy about 400 miles south 
of Kiska in the early afternoon of 2 June, and unusual radio activity later on 
the same day also helped to alert the defenders. In the early morning hours 
of 3 June, Admiral Kakuta's Second Mobile Force was in launching position 
south of Dutch Harbor, but less than half the planes launched reached their 
objective. Starting about 0545, seventeen bombers and fighters from Ryujo 
attacked Fort Mears and naval installations at Dutch Harbor, inflicting some 
damage on barracks and other facilities and killing about twenty-five soldiers 
and sailors. The Japanese lost two planes to antiaircraft fire. At 0900 the 
enemy launched a second strike aimed at a group of five American destroyers 

20 Rad, CTF 8 to CINCPAC, 28 May 42, OPD Exec 8, bk. 5. 

27 Memo, Col Sherrill, OPD, for CofS, 1 Jun 42, WDCSA 000.7 Alaska; Memo, Admiral 
Willson, OCNO ; for Gen Marshall, 2 Jun 42, OPD Exec 8, bk. 5 ; Memo, WPD for SW, 3 Jun 42, 
WDCSA 000.7 Alaska; Strength of the Army, 1 Nov 47, p. 42. 



sighted by one of the planes of the first attack force, but the weather closed 
in and concealed the American ships and the enemy could not find them. 
Four Japanese seaplanes that were launched from cruisers flew over Umnak. 
P-40 fighters from the new Otter Point airfield attacked them and destroyed 
two. Overcast hid the field, and not until the following day did the Japanese 
discover the existence of the new American forward air base. 28 

After recovering its planes, the enemy task force moved off in a south- 
westerly direction. During the night Admiral Kakuta changed course for 
Adak, which he had been ordered to soften up. But the weather was so bad 
that Kakuta decided to cancel the Adak attack and return for a second 
assault on Dutch Harbor. Late on 4 June Japanese planes struck again and 
destroyed four oil storage tanks, demolished a wing of the naval hospital, 
and partially destroyed the beached barracks ship Northwestern. Army and 
Navy casualties at Dutch Harbor for the two days were forty-three killed 
(thirty-three of them Army) and about fifty wounded. Both Dutch Harbor 
attacks were opposed by intense antiaircraft fire from land artillery supported 
by the naval guns fired from ships in the harbor. And, however startling they 
were, the attacks had little effect on the use of Dutch Harbor as a forward 
naval base. 

While Army planes based on Umnak and at Cold Bay were not able to 
prevent the enemy from bombing and strafing Dutch Harbor, planes from 
Umnak did intercept 8 of the Junyo planes returning from the second day's 
attack and shot down 4 of them while losing 2 of their own. Army and Navy 
efforts on 3 June to locate and attack the enemy carrier force were fruitless. 
The next morning a Navy patrol plane spotted the enemy, and several flights 
of Army planes attacked during the day. In the early afternoon a medium 
bomber dropped a torpedo on or beside one of the carriers, but it failed to 
explode. Six heavy bombers were flown forward from Kodiak on 4 June, 
and 2 of them succeeded in locating and bombing the enemy force. Before 
the day was over, other medium bombers from Umnak fired two torpedoes at 
an enemy cruiser. Contemporary claims by flight crews of explosions and hits 
were all denied by the Japanese after the war, and apparently the enemy sur- 
face ships escaped unscathed. During the whole action the Japanese lost about 
10 planes, the Army 5 (and at least fifteen airmen) , and 6 Navy patrol planes 
were put out of action. 

28 This paragraph and the two following are based principally on; Ltr, Hq Eleventh Air Force 
to CG ADC (about 10 Jun 42), sub: Summary of Operations to June 10th, WDC-ADC 384-7, 
vol. II; Morison, Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Operations, pp. 175-78; Craven and Cate, 
eds., Plans and Early Operations, pp, 462-69- 



In the much larger action off Midway to the south, the Japanese suffered 
a severe setback, and momentarily they suspended their plans for landings 
in the western Aleutians and turned the Northern Area Force task forces 
homeward. Then, on 5 June, with the Adak landing abandoned for the time 
being, Admiral Hosogaya ordered the Adak-Attu Occupation Force to pro- 
ceed to Attu, where its 1,200 troops began to land on 7 June, the day before 
the special naval force landed on Kiska, At the time of the landings the enemy 
intention was to stay only temporarily, and to withdraw before winter. Kiska 
without Midway no longer had any value as a base for patrolling the ocean 
between the Aleutian and Hawaiian chains; but Kiska and Attu in Japanese 
hands did block the Americans from using the Aleutians as a route for 
launching an offensive on Japan, and holding them had at least a distinct 
nuisance value. Before the end of June, therefore, the Japanese decided to 
stay and to build airfields on both islands. 29 

The Army's Reaction 

After the Dutch Harbor raid the Navy sent the patrol tender Gillis for- 
ward to Atka Island, and a Navy plane operating from Atka discovered the 
Japanese occupation of Kiska on the afternoon of 10 June. During the next 
three days Army bombers from Cold Bay and Umnak and Navy planes from 
Atka bombed the Kiska landing area as best they could through heavy over- 
cast, but without much visible effect. A threatened counterattack by Japanese 
flying boats against Atka led to the withdrawal of the Gillis, and thereafter 
the bombing of Kiska was left to Army planes. Only about half the missions 
flown by them during June and July were able even to locate the target, and 
those that did inflicted comparatively minor damage. Weather was the great 
enemy in Aleutian air operations during the summer and fall of 1942; only 
nine of the seventy-two planes lost by the Eleventh Air Force through 31 
October were destroyed in combat. The evident impossibility of bombing the 
enemy out of Kiska from the air persuaded the Navy to attempt a surface 
bombardment. After two tries in late July had been frustrated by dense fog, a 
naval force headed by four cruisers succeeded in bombing Kiska for half an 
hour on 7 August and inflicting considerable damage, but not enough to 
budge the Japanese. It became evident that only a joint and fairly large-scale 

29 Japanese Monograph 45, pp. 51-53; Japanese Monograph 88, pp. 26, 33; USSBS, Interro- 
gations of Japanese Officials, Intervs, 99, Comdr Nifumi Mukai, 22 Oct 45; 101, Capt Taisuke Ito, 
11 Oct 45 ; and 367, Vice Adm Sentaro Omori, 15-16 Oct 45. 



operation to recapture the enemy-held islands would get the Japanese out of 
the Aleutians. 30 

The Joint Chiefs of Staff had decided as much on 15 June, in their first 
discussion of the enemy occupation of Attu and Kiska. They also agreed that 
the sooner a determined effort was made to oust the Japanese from the Aleu- 
tians, the lesser the means that would be required to do it. At this time they 
considered it likely that the Aleutian attack and occupation was part of a 
holding action designed to screen a northward thrust by Japanese forces into 
Siberia's maritime provinces and the Kamchatka Peninsula. Following this 
discussion Admiral King and General Marshall sent warnings to the theater 
commanders that a Japanese attack on the Soviet Union might also include the 
occupation of St. Lawrence Island and of Nome and its adjacent airfields on 
the Seward Peninsula. 31 

The Chief of Staff took a personal hand in ordering the rush movement of 
reinforcements to Nome, then guarded by a single infantry company. He 
directed General Buckner to transfer twenty antiaircraft guns with their 
crews by air from Anchorage to Nome, where they had arrived by 21 June. 
During the succeeding two weeks 140 additional planeloads of men and 
equipment were flown in. Supplementing the air movement, ships from 
Seward carried troops, guns, ammunition, and vehicles to Nome, and by early 
July it had a garrison of more than 2,000 men. Far to the south of Nome, the 
Army on 17 June established a garrison of 1,400 officers and enlisted men at 
Port Heiden on the north side of the Alaska Peninsula, with the mission of 
developing and holding an air base intermediate between the Kodiak and 
Cold Bay fields, this new garrison becoming the Army's Fort Morrow. By 
mid-July the Army was also maintaining intelligence detachments on St. 
Lawrence Island and in the Pribilofs to keep track of enemy movements. 32 

The striking power of the Eleventh Air Force substantially increased 
following the enemy attack in early June, which occurred as air reinforcements 
were being rushed to Alaska and its forward bases. On 30 June the War 

80 Official Hist of the Alaskan Dept, ch. Ill; Samuel Eliot Morison, Aleutians, Gilberts and 
Marshall*, June 1942-April 1944 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1951), pp. 3-12; Wesley 
Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, eds., "The Army Air Forces in World War II," vol. IV, The 
Pacific — Guadalcanal to Saipan, August 1942 to July 1944 (Chicago: The University of Chicago 
Press, 1950), pp. 359-66. 

31 Min, JCS 20th Mtg, 15 Jun 42, ABC 370.2 Alaska (5-19-42); paraphrase of Rad, 
COMINCH to CINCPAC, 15 Jun 42, sent by CofS to CG WDC, 16 Jun 42, OPD 381 Japan 
(3-7-42), sec. 1. 

32 Various messages, dated 15-18 Jun 42, in OPD 381 ADC and AG 381 (12-5-41) (2); 
Gen Council Min, 23 Jun 42 ; Memo, Maj Joe E, Golden, OPD, for ACofS G-2, 15 Jul 42, OPD 
384 WDC (3-17-42) ; Official Hist of Alaskan Dept, chs. Ill and XXI. 



Department allotted the Alaskan air forces 2 heavy and 2 medium bombard- 
ment squadrons and one fighter group of 4 squadrons, all equipped with 
modern planes suitable for the Alaskan environment, and with substantial 
overstrengths in planes and crews to take care of operational losses. During 
the summer and fall of 1942 this strength was fairly well maintained. The 
new tactical air units sent to Alaska also had the support of a greatly 
increased flow of service units and supplies, including much more adequate 
radar equipment, and they were reinforced by the forward movement in June 
of 2 squadrons of Royal Canadian Air Force planes to Anchorage and beyond. 
Thereafter, air operations in the Aleutians became an Allied effort. The 
ground strength of the Alaska Defense Command was also substantially 
increased during the summer of 1942, and by the end of August its forces 
numbered about 71,500 officers and enlisted men. 33 

Both General DeWitt and General Buckner interpreted the Japanese 
occupation of Attu and Kiska and especially the enemy build-up on the latter 
island as preparation for an offensive eastward with the capture of Dutch 
Harbor as the initial objective. Both wanted to use Army and Marine Corps 
forces available in Alaska and on the west coast to mount an expedition 
against Kiska as soon as possible, and they wanted to cover this operation 
and perhaps draw the enemy into a decisive naval engagement by using 
American naval power in Hawaiian waters as well as that in Task Force 8. 
General Buckner's more specific plan called for an initial occupation of 
Tanaga Island and the quick construction of an airfield there to provide close 
support by land-based aviation during the Kiska operation. 34 

As the theater commanders were preparing these recommendations, they 
were disturbed by a visit from Brig. Gen. Laurence S. Kuter, Deputy Chief 
of the Air Staff, who rather bluntly informed them that the War Department 
considered the Aleutian situation of little consequence and Alaska a minor 
theater of operations that should be kept strictly on the defensive with no 
further Army air reinforcements. The Chief of Staff promptly disavowed 
General Kuter as a spokesman for the War Department on such matters as 
these, but the latter's views did reflect a growing disinclination in Washington 
to commit large forces in an Aleutian offensive. Instead, the Army and Navy 
decided, as stated in a joint directive of 2 July, to undertake limited offensive 

33 Rad 1628, CofS to CG WDC, 12 Aug 42, AG 452.1 (7-24-41) (1) ; Strength of the Army, 
1 Nov 47, p. 42; Craven and Cate, eds,, The Pacific — Guadalcanal to Saipan, pp. 3666* ; Dziuban, 
Military Relations Between the United States and Canada, 1939-45, pp. 252—54. 

34 Rad, CG WDC to CofS, 14 Jun 42; Memo, CG WDC for CofS, 21 Jun 42; and Ltr, CG 
ADC to CG WDC, 30 Jun 42. All in WDC-ADC 384-7, vol. III. 


operations in the southern Pacific, a decision that virtually ruled out the use 
of major Pacific Fleet forces, including the Amphibious Force, in North 
Pacific operations, at least during 1942. Admiral King personally commu- 
nicated this decision to General DeWitt on 6 July. In effect, it meant that any 
Aleutian offensive would have to be confined to what could be done with 
Army and Navy forces already in Alaska, bolstered by such units as General 
DeWitt could spare from west coast ground forces already under his com- 
mand. 35 

Command Problems 

Operations in Alaska during and after the Japanese attack and landings 
revealed a certain amount of interservice discord. The lack of co-ordination 
between the services can in part be attributed to the physical separation of the 
Army and Navy headquarters. Navy headquarters were located on Kodiak 
Island, and Army headquarters were at Fort Richardson near Anchorage, 
nearly three hundred miles away. The joint operations center previously set 
up by the Army at Anchorage proved practically worthless and had to be 
replaced by a similar establishment at Kodiak. Until the new center began 
functioning in August, the exchange of intelligence information between 
Navy and Army was slow and faulty. 36 

The control and conduct of air operations provided another source of 
friction. General Buckner was highly incensed by a complaint, attributed to 
a naval officer in Alaska and transmitted to the general by the War Depart- 
ment, that Army air units had been slow in responding to Navy requests for 
air support during the Dutch Harbor raid because of the Army's lack of 
understanding of command arrangements. He informed General DeWitt 
that the delays had been caused by limited communications, lack of sufficient 
bombardment aviation, and the exhaustion of pilots and crews who had been 
forced to fly in fog and the almost continuous daylight then prevalent, rather 
than any misunderstanding about command. 37 In fact, the directive to place 

35 Rad, CG WDC for CofS, 23 Jun 42; Ltr, CG ADC to CG WDC, 23 Jun 42. Both in 
WDCSA 000.7 Alaska. Memo, CG WDC for CofS, 16 Jul 42, ADC 381 Def Plans, bk. 4; Matioff 
and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941-42, pp. 258-62. 

36 Memo, Maj Golden, OPD, for ACofS G-2 } 15 Jul 42; Memo, Col Francis G. Brink, MIS, 
for Chief, Intelligence Group G-2, 25 Jul 42; and Memo, OPD for DCofS, 8 Aug 42. All in 
OPD 384 WDC (3-17-42), sec I. 

37 Memo, OPD for WDCMS, 6 Jun 42; Rad 072140, CG ADC to COMALSEC, 7 Jun 42. 
Both in OPD 384 WDC (3-17-42), sec 1. Rad 583, Gen DeWitt to Gen Marshall, 8 Jun 42, 
OPD Log File; paraphrase of Rad, Adm Theobald to Gen Buckner (about 12 Jun 42), WDCSA 
42-43 Alaska. 



both Army and Navy air units under the command of the senior Army air 
officer in Alaska, General Butler, was not put into full effect until peremp- 
tory orders from Washington required that it be done. 38 The situation was 
aggravated by a lively personality clash among the senior Alaskan com- 
manders, which tended to undermine the formal command arrangements 
that had been made. 39 

War Department officials were cognizant of the discord in Alaska and 
endeavored to rectify the situation without fanfare. In June, when General 
Kuter visited Alaska, he investigated the controversial air command question 
and was authorized to take such remedial action on the spot as he could. And 
when, in August, Col. Carl Russell of the Operations Division set out for 
Alaska as the military representative on a Senate investigating committee, he 
was asked "to unofficially familiarize himself with the relations between the 
Army and Navy in Alaska." ' 10 Governor Ernest Gruening, the Alaska War 
Council, and the Senate's Chandler Committee were less patient. They urged 
the War Department to establish a unified command in Alaska at once in 
order to meet the potential threat of an enemy invasion. As a result the 
matter was referred to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for consideration. After care- 
ful study, they decided against any change in the command arrangements 
in Alaska. Ultimately, as a result of a discreet transfer of personnel, inter- 
service friction and discord largely disappeared. 41 

Until these transfers had been effected, command relationships were an 
important factor in reopening for discussion two proposals argued during 
1941. The one was whether the commanding general in Alaska ought to be 
an air officer. The other was the closely related question of whether the Alaska 
Defense Command ought to be detached from the Western Defense Com- 
mand and established as a separate theater of operations. 

The Chief of Staff informed General DeWitt in September 1942 that 
the War Department contemplated replacing General Buckner by a senior 
air officer and establishing an Alaskan Department in the near future. The 

38 Rad, Gen Buckner to Gen Marshall, 20 Jun 42, OPD Log File; Memo, Col Deane, SGS, 
for CofS, 21 Jun 42, WDCSA binder, Notes on War Council; Min, War Council Mtg, 22 Jun 42, 
SW Conf, binder 2. 

39 Rad 172, Gen Marshall to Gen Buckner, 17 Jun 42 ; Rad 66 1, Gen DeWitt to Gen Marshall, 
17 Jun 42. Both in OPD Log File. Memo, Gen Marshall for Adm King, 28 Sep 42, WDCSA 
42-43, Alaska. 

40 Memo, ASGS for CofS, 21 Jun 42, WDCSA binder, Notes on War Council; Memo, OPD 
for DCofS, 8 Aug 42, OPD 384 WDC (3-17-42). 

41 Rad 212455, Gov Gruening et al. to Secy Interior, 20 Jun 42, OPD Log File; various papers, 
dated 9-28 Sep 42, in ABC 680 Alaska (9-7-42) ; Memo, Col Henry A. Barber, Chief, North 
American Theater Group, OPD for Brig Gen Wilton B. Persons, 19 Apr 43, OPD 384 WDC 



professed reason for the change was that Army planners had "always had in 
mind that after the ground forces were well established in the Aleutians the 
command should pass to an air man as that would be the principal arm of 
operation/' 42 It is far more likely that the real reason General Marshall pro- 
posed to make the change in command was to permit a quiet shift in person- 
nel that would eliminate one basic cause of friction between the services. At 
any rate, after the Alaskan naval commander had been replaced, and after 
a close and harmonious working relationship developed between his succes 
sor and the commanding general of the Alaska Defense Command, the 
matter was not pressed. 

Once again General DeWitt argued vigorously against the proposal to 
separate Alaska from the Western Defense Command, reviewing in detail 
the reasons he had given in the spring of 1941. He maintained that the 
Alaska and Western Defense Commands were strategically interlocked by 
a single mission. He also argued that supply and administrative matters 
could be more effectively administered by a single command than otherwise. 
Washington staff planners, on the contrary, favored an independent Alaskan 
command. They felt that from the strategic point of view there was no more 
reason for Alaska to remain under the Western Defense Command than for 
Hawaii to be in the same subordinate relationship. They argued that because 
of the improvement in supply procedures and communication facilities a 
separate Alaskan theater was entirely feasible. They believed that the size 
of Army forces in Alaska and the possibility of major operations in the area 
justified the establishment of a separate command. 43 For the time being 
nothing was done to alter the chain of command, although the matter 
remained a subject of staff study throughout the winter of 1942 and for most 
of 1943. 

Aid to the Soviet Union 

As noted above, Japanese action against the Aleutians immediately 
renewed American anticipation of Soviet involvement in the Pacific war, and 
as late as 11 July Army intelligence was forecasting a Japanese attack on 
Siberia in the near future as a virtual certainty 44 During May, Soviet interest 
in the Alaskan air route to Siberia had also revived, and on 8 June Ambassa- 
dor Maxim M. Litvinov told Mr. Harry Hopkins that the Soviet Government 

42 Ltr, Gen Marshall to Gen DeWitt, 3 Sep 42, WDCSA 42-43 Alaska. 

43 Ltr, Gen DeWitt to Gen Marshall, n Sep 42; Memos, OPD for CofS, 5 and 7 Oct 42. All 
inOPD 384 WDC (3-17-42), sec. 1. 

44 Memo, G-2 for CofS, 11 Jul 42, OPD Exec io, item 7c. 



''had agreed to our flying bombers to Russia via Alaska and Siberia.'* Mr. 
Hopkins guessed that the real reason behind this Soviet agreement was to 
prepare the way for the flight of American bombers to the Vladivostok area 
in the event Japan attacked. 45 After the discussion of the North Pacific situ- 
ation by the Joint Chiefs on 15 June, they drafted a message to be sent by 
President Roosevelt to Marshal Stalin, expressing the President's pleasure 
with Soviet agreement to use the Alaska-Siberia air route for ferrying lend- 
lease planes to Europe, and proposing the immediate exchange of detailed 
military information and staff conversations to prepare the way for collabora- 
tion against Japan in the North Pacific. Marshal Stalin's response suggested 
that American planes being sent to the western front be taken over by Soviet 
flyers at Nome or elsewhere in Alaska, and, while agreeing to staff conver- 
sations in Moscow he was very noncommittal about military collaboration in 
the Far East. 46 

Following this exchange the United States sent Maj. Gen. Follett Bradley 
to Moscow for staff conversations, and the Army Air Forces began to pre- 
pare Ladd Field at Fairbanks (rather than Nome) as the delivery point for 
lend-lease planes destined to the Soviet Union. 47 When General Bradley 
reached Moscow at the end of July, he found Russian officials primarily 
interested in the ferrying project. They professed no alarm over a Japanese 
threat to Siberia and were evidently as determined as ever to avoid a two- 
front war as long as they were hard-pressed by the Germans in Europe. 

The planes for the Soviet Union were flown by way of the Northwest 
Staging Route to Ladd Field at Fairbanks, which was designated an exempt 
station under Army Air Forces' control, although support of the ferrying 
operation became one of the principal missions of the Alaska Defense Com- 
mand. The first planes from the continental United States reached Fairbanks 
in September 1942 and, after inspection and acceptance by the Russians, 
were flown off by them before the end of the month. For the first six months 
many difficulties plagued the operation, but eventually the Alaskan air route 
became the principal means for delivering aircraft to the Soviet Union. The 

45 Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History (rev. ed., New York: 
Harper and Brothers, 1950), p. 584. 

48 Min, JCS 20th Mtg, 15 Jun 42, ABC 370.2 (5-19-42) ; Draft message, Roosevelt to Stalin, 
16 Jun 42, and Rad 227, Ambassador William H. Standley to Dept of State, 2 Jul 42. Both in 
WDCSA 42-43 Russia. The Soviet response states the President's message was delivered on 26 

47 See MatlofT and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941-42, pp. 342-46; Wesley Frank Craven and 
James Lea Cate, "The Army Air Forces in World War II," vol. VII, Services Around the 
World (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1958), ch. VI. 



route to Fairbanks also provided a means for delivering planes to the Eleventh 
Air Force, and transport service along the route gave some essential support 
to military operations in the Aleutians and beyond. But the air route operated 
by the Army through northwestern Canada and across Alaska served prin- 
cipally and very largely the purpose of delivering airplanes to the Russians, 
an activity which continued unabated until the summer of 1945. 48 

The Advance Westward 

With the decisions on Pacific strategy that Admiral King had com- 
municated to him in mind, General DeWitt on 16 July submitted a more 
modest plan for a joint offensive in the Aleutians. Engineer reconnaissance 
in late June had indicated the feasibility of constructing an airfield quickly 
on Tanaga Island, located about 400 miles west of Umnak and 200 miles 
from Kiska, and it was this survey that had prompted General Buckner to 
recommend the occupation of Tanaga as the first step in a drive on Kiska. 
General DeWitt now proposed it as "the next best step to the occupation of 
Kiska to thwart the enemy's eastward movement," and as an essential move 
toward the capture of Kiska eventually. He planned to send an initial gar- 
rison of 3,200 Army troops to Tanaga, including infantry and artillery ele- 
ments from the west coast, and to do so during August if the Navy's Alaskan 
forces were prepared to cover the landing. 49 

In Washington, discussion of this proposal developed a preference of the 
Navy for a landing on Adak Island, about sixty miles east of Tanaga. Adak, 
the Navy believed, had a better and less exposed harbor; on the other hand, 
the information then available to the Army indicated it would take much 
longer to build an airfield there. A directive of the Joint Chiefs, announced 
on 5 August and confirmed five days later, apparently settled the argument in 
favor of Tanaga. But, on 15 August, Admiral Theobald reported that his 
survey board had advised that an occupation of Tanaga would present the 
Navy with serious navigational hazards, and Admiral King thereupon with- 
drew his approval of the Tanaga operation. Confronted with the choice of 
Adak or no forward advance, General DeWitt agreed to go along with the 
Navy and occupy Adak. The revised joint directive for this operation, dis- 
patched on 22 August, suggested a supporting occupation of Atka Island to 
the east of Adak to provide an intermediate emergency landing field for 

48 For details, see Craven and Cate, eds., Services Around the World, ch. VI. 

49 Memo, CG WDC for CofS, 16 Jul 42, ADC 381 Def Plans, bk. 4. 



fighter planes, and a skeleton movement of Army troops to Tanaga at the 
time of the Adak landing to deceive the enemy. The theater commanders 
considered the Tanaga suggestion impracticable, but the Atka occupation 
was carried out by an Army force of 800 men on 16 September. 50 

In the meantime, preliminary reconnaissance landings on Adak on 26 and 
27 August had failed to discover any enemy forces on the island, and three 
days later an Army force of about 4,500 began to come ashore. The fortuitous 
discovery that a tidal basin near the landing area could be used as an airfield 
site solved anticipated construction problems on that score. Army engineers 
installed an ingenious drainage system which with fills provided a usable 
airfield in less than two weeks, instead of the two or three months that had 
been forecast. The Army planned to increase the Adak garrison to more t lan 
10,000 men by mid-October, and thus to make it the strongest as well as the 
most advanced of the Alaskan bases. 51 

A few days after the Adak landing General DeWitt ordered the Alaska 
Defense Command to send an Army detachment to St. Paul and St. George 
Islands in the Pribilofs, from which the native population had been evacuated 
in June. A Joint Chiefs directive of 6 September confirmed this move, which 
in transmission crossed a vigorous message of protest from Admiral Theo- 
bald. At his insistence the operation was briefly deferred, an Army force of 
800 finally landing on St. Paul on 19 September, where it was housed in the 
abandoned civilian dwellings and where it built a fighter strip that was 
ready for use by the end of October. 52 

The new base at Adak soon proved its worth. On 14 September a force 
of twelve B-24 heavy bombers accompanied by twenty-eight fighters from 
Adak delivered a strong attack on Kiska. The planes encountered intense 
fire from Japanese antiaircraft guns whose numbers had been increased by 
the withdrawal of antiaircraft forces from Attu only four days before. 
Nevertheless, the attack was highly successful. While fighters of the 42d 
and 54th Squadrons strafed installations, shelled three small submarines, and 
left a large four-motor flying boat burning in the harbor, the B-24 s were 

50 Rads, COMINCH to C1NCPAC, 5 and 22 Aug 42, both in WDC-ADC 384-7, vol. IV, 
contain the JCS Dirs on Tanaga and Adak; Rad, CTF 8 to CINCPAC, 15 Aug 42, WDCSA 
42-43 Alaska; Memo, COMINCH for CofS, 18 Aug 42, OPD Exec 10, item 67a; Ltr, Gen 
DeWitt to Gen Marshall, 7 Sep 42, WDCSA 42-43 WDC; Official Hist of the Alaskan Dept. 
ch. XXI. 

51 Rad 3616, CG WDC to CofS, 8 Sep 42, WDC-ADC 384-7, vol. IV; OPD interoffice 
Memo, 9 Sep 42, OPD 381 Alaska, sec. I. 

52 OPD Diary, 4 Sep 42 ; Memo, CofS for OPD, 8 Sep 42, and attachments, OPD Exec 10, 
item 67b; Official Hist of the Alaskan Dept. chs. Ill, XXI. 



chalking up hits on enemy shipping and on base installations. Two mine 
sweepers and three cargo vessels were considered sunk or badly damaged, 
several other seaplanes were destroyed, and fires set on shore. Losses among 
the attackers were limited to two P-38 fighters that collided in midair while 
chasing the same enemy fighter. Then a long spell of bad weather intervened. 
The attack was resumed on 25 September, when a combined United States- 
Canadian force struck another hard blow against Kiska. Nearly every day 
for the next three weeks, and sometimes twice a day, American and Canadian 
planes shot up the Japanese installations or bombed shipping in Kiska Harbor. 
During September slightly more than 116 tons of bombs were dropped on 
the enemy, almost twice as much as in the entire period up to 1 September; 
and in the following month, October, 200 tons of bombs were dropped. On 
14 October a particularly strong formation exploded a supply dump on Kiska 
and started large fires in the Japanese camp area. Two days later a flight of 
six medium bombers sank one Japanese destroyer and damaged another. 
Then, beginning in November, bad weather and the withdrawal of heavy 
bombers from action restricted air operations until February to reconnaissance 
and occasional bombings. 59 

The repeated bombings of Kiska during the summer had persuaded the 
enemy that the Americans aimed to recapture it, and in order to strengthen 
Kiska the Japanese on 24 August put all of their Aleutian forces under naval 
command and ordered the Army garrison on Attu to move to Kiska. The 
movement was completed by 16 September, after destruction of the defense 
installations so laboriously undertaken on Attu. Following a second reorgani- 
zation of the enemy's North Pacific forces in late October, the Japanese Army 
increased its garrison in the Kuril Islands and reoccupied Attu. By early 
November enemy forces on Kiska numbered about 4,000 and those on Attu 
about 1,000. The Japanese counted on darkness and the weather to protect 
them from any serious American attack before the following March, and in 
the meantime they hoped to complete airfields for land-based planes on 
Kiska and on Shemya Island near Attu, something they were never able to 
do. Throughout the Aleutian Campaign the Japanese had to depend either on 
carriers, which made their last visit in July 1942, or on planes that could be 
floated; and weak air attacks on Adak during October did little more than 
illustrate the ineffectiveness of enemy air power. The Japanese also hoped to 
occupy Amchitka Island, about eighty miles southeast of Kiska, to bar another 

53 Craven and Cate, eds., The Pacific — Guadalcanal to Saipan, pp. 370-71 ; Official Hist of the 
Alaskan Dept, app. B, Summary of Air Operations; OPD Diary, Sep-Oct 42; The Aleutians 
Campaign (Washington, 1945) (ONI Combat Narrative), pp. 18-22. 



American move westward. While enemy orders referred to Kiska as "the 
key position on the northern attacking route against the United States in the 
future," it is fairly evident that the Japanese had no such design and were 
attempting only to block the American advance. 54 

United States Army and Navy leaders were in agreement by October that 
the only satisfactory solution of the Aleutian situation would be to launch 
an amphibious assault on Kiska. They assumed that the core of the assault 
force would have to be an infantry division or its equivalent and that this 
division would need at least three months of special training. The division 
and its supporting forces could not be made ready for the operation before 
March 1943 at the earliest, and in any event the Aleutian environment during 
the intervening months would be at its worst. These considerations, coupled 
with a crisis in the Guadalcanal operation in the South Pacific, led in Novem- 
ber to the stripping of Task Force 8, and it would not be able to command 
and cover an assault on Kiska until its strength was restored. In the meantime, 
the most the Army and Navy could do in the Aleutians would be to expand 
and strengthen their forward bases. 55 

As soon as the airfield on Adak was in operation, General Buckner and 
Admiral Theobald began preparations for the occupation of Tanaga, which 
they planned to do by the end of October. 56 As originally conceived, this was 
to be a defensive measure intended to thwart a Japanese move in the direction 
of Adak. For the purpose of supporting an assault on Kiska, Tanaga offered 
no particular advantage over Adak. 

In Washington Army and Navy planners since August had been consider- 
ing an occupation of Amchitka, and at the War Department's suggestion a 
reconnaissance of Amchitka was carried out at the end of September to 
determine how long it would take to construct an airfield there. The recon- 
naissance indicated that the construction would be difficult, and therefore 
General DeWitt strongly objected when General Marshall asked him 
whether Amchitka could be substituted for Tanaga, especially since the 
Chief of Staff in the same message warned that Alaskan naval strength 
might be drastically reduced in the near future. When General Marshall 

54 The quotation is from a paraphrase of the Army Imperial GHQ order of 25 Aug 42 (24 
August, Alaskan dating), in Japanese Monograph No. 46. This monograph, and Nos. 45 and 88, 
are the principal sources for the above summary. 

55 Memo, Adm King for CofS, 12 Oct 42, OPD Exec 10, item 67b; Ltr, Gen Marshall to 
COMINCH, 17 Oct 42, WDCSA 42-43 Alaska; Morison, Aleutians, Gilberts and Marshalls, 
pp. 14-15. 

56 Memo, OPD for CofS, 28 Sep 42, OPD 381 Alaska, sec I; Memo, Gen Marshall for Adm 
King, 1 Oct 42, WDCSA 42-43 Alaska. 



repeated the Amchitka proposal at the end of October, General DeWitt 
postponed the Tanaga operation, which was to have started on i November, 
and directed General Buckner to arrange with Admiral Theobald for a new 
survey of Amchitka. The appointed survey party remained at Fort Glenn for 
more than a month, with General DeWitt's concurrence, because Admiral 
Theobald thought its transport by Navy plane to Amchitka too risky in view 
of the increased enemy strength on Kiska and enemy patrol activity in its 
vicinity. 57 

Then, on 13 December, General DeWitt discussed the situation in the 
Aleutians with Rear Adm. Thomas C. Kinkaid, who was on his way to 
Alaska to relieve Admiral Theobald as commander of Task Force 8. Admi- 
ral Kinkaid, who had recently commanded a carrier group in the Solomons, 
was fully acquainted with Japanese capabilities as well as the course of the 
war in the South Pacific. Having been briefed by Admiral Nimitz on the 
Aleutians, he had reached the conclusion that an airfield had to be built on 
Amchitka to prevent the Japanese from building one there. In a discussion 
with Admiral Kinkaid, General DeWitt agreed to call off the occupation 
of Tanaga and to substitute the Amchitka operation. Admiral King, who was 
also in San Francisco conferring with Admiral Nimitz, immediately con- 
curred. The reports from San Francisco led to the prompt dispatch of the 
Amchitka reconnaissance party, which visited the island on 17-19 December. 58 

On his return to Washington Admiral King submitted the draft of a 
joint directive to General Marshall, calling not only for the occupation of 
Amchitka immediately if the new survey proved to be favorable, but also 
for the selection of Army forces for the Kiska assault and initiation of their 
training. General Marshall agreed, on condition that the reconnaissance of 
Amchitka indicated that an airfield could be built there within a reasonable 
time and provided, further, that no definite target date was set for the in- 
vasion of Kiska. These conditions were acceptable to Admiral King, and on 
18 December the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a directive to this effect. Two 
days later General DeWitt reported that the reconnaissance party had re- 
turned with news that a fighter strip could be built on Amchitka in two or 
three weeks and a main airfield with a 5,ooo-foot runway in three or four 

57 Memo, CofS for SW, 12 Jan 43, WDCSA 42-43 Alaska (a review of the proposals and 
actions leading up to the occupation of Amchitka) ; Rad 2062, CofS to Gen DeWitt, 15 Oct 42, 
WDCSA 42-43 Alaska; Rad, Gen DeWitt to Gen Marshall, 17 Oct 42, OPD Exec 10, item 67b; 
Rad, CG WDC to CG ADC, 1 Nov 42, ADC 381 Def Plans, bk. 5. 

58 Rad 223, CG WDC to CofS, 18 Dec 42, OPD Log File; Memo, CofS for SW, 12 Jan 43, 
WDCSA 42-43 Alaska. 



months. He assumed, therefore, that, in accordance with the joint directive, 
the Amchitka landing should be made as soon as possible. 59 

Bad weather frustrated the first attempt to land troops on Amchitka on 
9 January 1943, but during the night of ri January a small security detach- 
ment was put ashore from the destroyer Word en. The next morning a com- 
bat team of nearly 2,000 men, under the command of Brig. Gen. Lloyd E. 
Jones, disembarked without opposition. The only enemies were the weath- 
er, the unpredictable current, and the rock-studded waters through which 
the landing was made. The Worden, after landing the security party, ran 
onto a rock pinnacle and sank with the loss of fourteen men. The first night 
the main body of troops were on shore a gale blew up that smashed a con- 
siderable number of the landing boats and swept the transport Arthur Mid- 
dleton aground. The second day brought a blizzard. And so it went for al- 
most two weeks. When the weather cleared, the Japanese discovered what 
was happening on Amchitka. Beginning on 24 January, Japanese planes 
made a number of light bombing and strafing attacks on the island but 
failed to halt work on an airfield. By 16 February, the fighter strip was 
ready for limited operation. On that day eight P-40*s arrived on Amchitka, 
and within a week they were running patrols over Kiska. 60 

The stage was now set for the next phase of operations, amphibious at- 
tacks to eject the Japanese from their Aleutian footholds. 

59 Memo, Adm King for CofS, 15 Dec 42; Memo, Gen Marshall for Adm King, 16 Dec 42; 
and Memo, CofS for SW, 12 Jan 43. All in WDCSA 42-43 Alaska. Rad 244, CG WDC to CofS, 
20 Dec 42, OPD Log File. 

60 Official Hist of the Alaskan Dept, ch. Ill; Morison, Aleutians, Gilberts and Marshalls, p. 18; 
Craven and Cate, eds., The Pacific— Guadalcanal to Saipan. pp. 374—76. 


Clearing the Aleutians 

As soon as the decision to occupy Amchitka was taken in December 
1942, preliminary planning to drive the Japanese out of the Aleutians was 
set in motion. Initially Kiska, the nearer, more strongly fortified of the 
enemy-held islands, and offering a more satisfactory harbor and better air- 
field sites, was the objective of the count erassualt. As a starting point, Gen- 
eral DeWitt proposed to organize and train a task force built around one 
infantry division and totaling 25,000 men. For commander and assistant 
commander he recommended Maj. Gen. Charles H. Corlett and Brig. Gen. 
Eugene M. Landrum, both of whom had participated in joint amphibious 
exercises and were familiar with conditions in the Aleutians. Although 
Admiral Nimitz, estimating Japanese strength on Kiska at 10,000 men, 
suggested that two divisions might be required, the War Department con- 
curred in the outline plan presented by General DeWitt. In place of the 
35 th Division, originally recommended, the War Department proposed, and 
General DeWitt agreed, to employ the 7th Division, since it was in a bet- 
ter state of training and readiness, was scheduled for early "demotoriza- 
tion" and could be brought up to full strength more readily, was stationed 
near Fort Ord, where the amphibious training was to be conducted, and was 
more ably led and staffed. 1 

A joint Army-Navy planning staff was set up at San Diego under Rear 
Adm. Francis W. Rockwell, commander of the Amphibious Force, North 
Pacific, who was designated to command the assault force for the actual 
operation. Maj. Gen. Albert E. Brown, commanding general of the 7th 
Division, was named commander of the landing force. While Admiral 
Rockwell and a group of officers from the Western Defense Command were 
making plans, with the help of several Alaskan experts from General 
Buckner's headquarters, General Brown was leading his troops through the 

1 Rad, Gen DeWitt to Gen Marshall, 18 Dec 42; Rad, DeWitt to Marshall, 19 Dec 42; Rad, 
Marshall to DeWitt, 21 Dec 42; Rad, DeWitt to Marshall, 21 Dec 42. All in OPD Log File, 
Dec 42. Rad, Marshall to DeWitt, 23 Dec 42, OPD 381 Alaska/52; unsigned Memo for Red, 
20 Dec 42, sub: Offensive Operations in Aleutians, OPD 381 ADC (12—20—42). 


amphibious training course directed by Maj. Gen. Holland M. Smith, USMC. 
By the beginning of February the forces training at Fort Ord for the descent 
on Kiska included, in addition to the 7th Division, the 184th Infantry Regi- 
ment, the 78th Coast Artillery ( AA) (less one battalion) , and the 2d Bat- 
talion, 501st Coast Artillery (AA). 2 

Meanwhile, in the Aleutians the Eleventh Air Force had been sending 
its planes over Kiska whenever the weather permitted, which in December 
and January was not often. Fog and foul weather held the planes to the 
ground during most of January, and the few r missions that were flown 
proved more costly to the Eleventh Air Force than damaging to the enemy. 
Only about 10V2 tons of bombs were dropped — the lightest since the begin- 
ning of the air assault — and at least ten planes were lost, none of them by 
enemy action. Partly because the weather improved, and partly because P-38 
and P-40 fighter-bombers were now based on Amchitka, February and 
March were much better months. In February Army planes attacked Kiska 
on nine separate days, flying twenty-four missions (not including twenty 
weather and reconnaissance missions), and dropping about 150 tons of 
bombs. The attacks continued with equal vigor and intensity during March. 3 
There was, to be sure, no comparison between the air assault on Kiska and 
the huge raids taking place against German-occupied Europe, but it is to be 
noted that in the South Pacific the Allied air forces loosed 197 tons of bombs 
on Rabaul during the month of December. 

On 26 March a solid opportunity came to the Eleventh Air Force to 
strike a major blow, when a naval task group cruising off the Komandorski 
Islands under Rear Adm. Charles H. McMorris intercepted a strong Japanese 
force that was attempting to run reinforcements into Kiska and Attu. But the 
opportunity was lost. When Admiral McMorris' report of contact reached 
Adak, the bombers loaded with antipersonnel bombs were poised for an 
attack on Kiska. Although General Butler estimated that it would take at 
least an hour or so to unload the light bombs and replace them with heavy, 
armor-piercing ones, it seemed logical to accept the delay and make the 
change. 4 Admiral Kinkaid therefore sent a message to McMorris suggesting 
that he fight a retiring action to the eastward in order to get under cover of 

2 Capt Nelson L. Drummond, The Attu Operation (2 vols.), I, 30, MS in OCMH. Drummond, 
a historical officer, prepared this account from official records and interviews with participants. 

3 Craven and Cate, eds., The Pacific — Guadalcanal to Saipan, pp. 375-76; Official Hist of the 
Alaskan Dept, app. B, Summary of Air Operations; Navy Dept Communiques for Jan and Feb 43, 
in G-2 Study on Aleutians, by Maj G. Dorrance, copy in OCMH. 

4 Ltr, Adm Kinkaid to Actg Chief of Military History, 11 Apr 59. OCMH files. 



the bombers, but McMorris at that point was completely cut off by an enemy 
force twice the strength of his own. Furthermore, the shift of bomb loads 
cook much longer than anticipated, and by the time the planes were ready 
a snow storm had closed in the field. When they finally took to the air, 
they were unable to reach the scene of action before the Japanese had re- 
treated beyond range. Although Admiral McMorris succeeded in thwarting 
the enemy attempt at reinforcement, the support of Army bombers might 
have enabled him to turn the engagement, brilliant as it was, into an un- 
mistakable disaster for the Japanese. 5 

Attn Retaken 

By this time the plans and preparations in motion on the west coast had 
been given a new objective. Realizing that not enough shipping would be 
available for the Kiska operation, Admiral Kinkaid had recommended early 
in March that Attu be substituted as the target, for, in comparison with 
Kiska, Attu appeared to be weakly defended. Estimates based on air photo- 
graphs placed the Japanese strength on Attu at only 500 men, of which 
three rifle companies constituted the effective tactical strength, the remain- 
der being antiaircraft and labor troops. Instead of the reinforced division 
called for in the Kiska plans, one infantry regiment plus the 7th Division's 
mountain artillery was considered by Admiral Kinkaid and General Buck- 
ner as probabaly sufficient for the capture of Attu. Only four attack trans- 
ports (APA's) and two or three cargo ships (AKA's) would be required. 6 
Also in capturing Attu and with an airfield in operation there, American 
forces would be astride the Japanese line of communications between the 
home islands and Kiska. The latter, cut off from supply and reinforcements, 
would "wither on the vine." On 10 March Admiral King notified Admiral 
Nimitz and General DeWitt that the Joint Chiefs of Staff had approved the 
projected change of plan, provided the operation could be carried out with 
only those means that Admiral Nimitz could spare and those already on 
hand for the assault on Kiska, which was now deferred. The approval of the 
Joint Chiefs, Admiral King made clear, extended only to planning and 
training; it was not to be considered as a directive to execute the operation. 7 
This would hinge upon the outcome of the discussions on Pacific strategy 

5 See Morison, Aleutians, Gilberts and Marshalls, ch. II. 

6 Rad, CTF 8 to CINCPAC, 7 Mar 43, OPD 381/39. ONI Combat Narrative, Aleutians Cam- 
paign, pp. 69-70. 

7 Rad, COMINCH to CINCPAC and CG WDC, 10 Mar 43, OPD 381/39. 



about to begin in Washington. When the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 21 March 
agreed to postpone any major offensive in the South Pacific, the way was 
cleared for the reduction of Attu. Information received by the Navy that 
the Japanese were establishing an airfield on Attu offered an additional 
reason for putting the plans into execution. Therefore, on 22 March, Gen- 
eral Marshall and Admiral King decided that the operation should proceed 
"as soon as practicable." 8 The shift of objective did not upset the training 
program or make an appreciable difference in the preliminary planning 
activity of Admiral Rockwell's joint staff in San Diego. A new estimate of 
the situation, including a study of the shipping that would be available and 
the forces required, was necessary. This was prepared by the joint planning 
staff; and, after the decision to go ahead with the operation was reached, 
General Brown's staff, in co-operation with Admiral Rockwell's joint plan- 
ners, began drawing up the detailed tactical plans. 9 

Seldom has an operation been planned with less knowledge of the 
conditions the troops would have to face. From Cape Wrangell in the west 
to Chirikof Point in the east, the fog-surrounded island of Attu is about 
forty statute miles in length. Its greatest width is about twenty miles. At 
the head of the deep coastal indentations lie narrow beaches, from which 
small, snow-fed streams lead back into the jumbled, barren mountain-mass 
of the interior, a desolate region of twisted, precipitous crags, whose snow- 
capped peaks mount upwards to heights of two and three thousand feet. 
The valley floors are carpeted with tundra: the black muck, covered with a 
dense growth of lichens and moss, which is characteristic of the far North. 
On the northern mainland, in Alaska and northern Canada, the tundra is 
frozen solid during most of the year; but in the outermost Aleutians the 
Japan Current has a moderating effect on temperatures and much of the 
time the tundra is barely firm enough for a man to cross it on foot. The same 
Japan Current accounts for the pea-soup fogs, the constant pervading wet- 
ness, and the frequent storms that help to make the outer Aleutians so in- 

8 Memo, Adm King for CofS, 22 Mar 43, with proposed dir COMINCH to CINCPAC, and 
Memo, OPD for COMINCH, 22 Mar 43, OPD 381/54. For accounts of the Pacific Military Conf 
in Washington, see Maurice Matloff, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1^4^-1^44, 
UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1959), pp. 91-99= and, in the 
same series, John Miller, jr., CARTWHEEL: The Reduction of Rabaul (Washington, 1959) , 
ch. II. 

9 Lt Col Lynn D. Smith, Asst ACofS, G-3, WDC and Fourth Army, Preliminary Report on 
Attu Landing, 30 May 43, OCMH. First Information and Hist Service, G-2 Hist Subsec, The 
Attu Operations, p. 7, Monograph, OCMH. This account, The Attu Operations, was prepared by 
General Brown in late 1943 and edited by him in Feb 1946. It should not be confused with 
Drummond's narrative bearing a similar title. 



hospitable. To the soldiers who had to fight not only the Japanese but the 
weather and terrain of the island, it must have seemed that the Creator of 
the universe was an unskilled apprentice when He brought Attu into exist- 

The eastern end of Attu, indented by four bays, is roughly shaped in the 
form of a trefoil: the northern lobe lies between Holtz Bay and Sarana Bay; 
the elongated midsection, terminating in Chirikof Point, is shaped by 
Sarana and Massacr e Bays; and the southern lobe lies between Massacre Bay 
and Temnac Cove. (Map III J From Holtz Bay in the north and Temnac 

Cove in the south, steep-walled valleys run back in a generally westward 
direction until they disappear in the mountainous maze of the interior. The 
Massacre Bay valley, about a mile and a quarter wide at the beach, is soon 
divided into two by a hogback, which, although rather steep on the sides, 
slopes gradually along' its length to an elevation of about 550 feet at the 
upper end. At Holtz Bay, likewise, a ridge divides the valley into two; but 
here the central ridge projects into the bay for a distance of nearly a mile, 
and its highest, steepest sides face the water. About a mile and a half up the 
west arm of the valley a low pass crosses this ridge into the eastern Holtz 
Bay valley, from which, at this point, over a 600-foot saddle, it is possible 
to cross into the head of West Massacre Valley. A slightly lower saddle 
separates the head of East Massacre Valley from the valley leading out of 
Sarana Bay. 10 

Only the bare details of the topography were known to those planning 
the assault. The only available map of Attu was a Coast and Geodetic Sur- 
vey chart showing the terrain back to approximately one thousand yards from 
the shore line, and warning all shipping not to approach closer than two and 
one-half to three miles. Very little was known about the harbors. Oblique 
aerial photographs filled in a few gaps, but, because of the prevailing fog, 
the coverage was far from complete. A terrain model was constructed of 
the eastern portion of the island, east of a line running from Temnac Cove 
to the ridge north and west of Holtz Bay, but the model did not clearly de- 
lineate the key passes or the areas behind Henderson Ridge (the southwest- 
ern wall of Massacre Valley) and in the interior, west of Holtz Bay. 11 

The American planning staff had only scant information concerning the 
Japanese defenses. During late fall and early winter the Attu garrison had 

10 The following maps of Attu have been used: AMSQ 831, Type C (AMS-2) 1947, Scale 
1:25,000; and AMSQ 501, First Edition 1953, Scale 1:250,000. 

11 Drummond, Attu Operation, I, 43—44; Smith, Preliminary Rpt on Attu Landing, p. 2. 



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been gradually reinforced. A redeployment of naval forces ordered by 
Admiral Kinkaid shortly after he took command and the subsequent battle 
off the Komandorskis put an end to the process, but in the meantime the 
Japanese strength had been increased to a total of approximately 2,400 men. 
The nucleus of combat troops included about one and a half battalions of 
infantry, three antiaircraft batteries armed with 75-mm. dual-purpose guns 
and lighter weapons, and two platoons of a mountain gun battery armed 
with 75-mm. pack howitzers. In addition to medical and other service de- 
tachments there were several engineer units whose primary mission was to 
construct an airfield at the head of the East Arm of Holtz Bay. The whole 
force was commanded by Col. Yasuyo Yamazaki, with headquarters at 
Chichagof Harbor, a small bay midway between Holtz and Sarana Bays. 
The bulk of the garrison was concentrated in the vicinity of Holtz Bay and 
around Chichagof Harbor, where the strongest positions had been installed. 
One of the antiaircraft batteries, consisting of four guns, commanded the 
West Arm of Holtz Bay; another was placed at the head of the East Arm 
of the bay; and the third was part of the Chichagof Harbor defenses. The 
pass between Holtz Bay and Massacre Valley was guarded by the mountain 
artillery, one platoon of which was in position to enfilade Massacre Valley 
itself. Along the ridges flanking Massacre Valley and overlooking Sarana 
Bay the Japanese had built machine gun and mortar positions. 12 The plans 
being developed in California took note of the fact that Holtz Bay and 
Chichagof Harbor were the most heavily defended of the possible landing 
places. Reconnaissance planes had noted signs of Japanese activity in the 
vicinity of Temnac Cove, Sarana Bay, and at the head of Massacre Valley, 
but it was almost impossible to spot the cleverly concealed emplacements 
along the ridges. Additional details kept coming to light with the result 
that the original estimate of Japanese strength was progressively raised. By 
the time General Brown and his staff had completed the operational plan- 
ning, it was estimated that the enemy garrison amounted to something 
between 1,600 and 1,800 men, of whom one battalion or its equivalent was 
composed of infantry and troops available for infantry service. Aerial photo- 
graphs received from the planning staffs in early April indicated that a num- 
ber of Japanese positions existed in the lower part of Massacre Valley com- 
manding the beaches and the bay, but, because there was no sign that these 

12 Drummond, Attu Operation, I, 8-9, 12-15; Japanese Monograph 46, pp. 111 fT., and Map 
3, Disposition of Troops (Japanese) on Attu. 



positions were occupied, the assumption was that they had been built and 
abandoned the year before. 13 

As soon as it was clear that the Japanese garrison exceeded the first 
estimate of 500 men, General Brown's landing force was increased by an 
additional battalion combat team. Thus, for the initial attack, the following 
troops would be available: one regimental combat team built around the 
17th Infantry and a field artillery battalion; one battalion combat team from 
the 3 2d Infantry and including a battery of field artillery; the 7th Division 
Reconnaissance Troop; one battalion of antiaircraft artillery; and one bat- 
talion of combat engineers. The remainder of the 32d Infantry, with rein- 
forcements similar to those of the 17th Infantry combat team, was to be 
held at Adak as a floating reserve and was expected to be available at Attu 
on D plus 1. The total strength of the assault force and floating reserve 
amounted to approximately n,ooo men. 14 Admiral Kinkaid, as commander, 
North Pacific, was in command of the entire operation. Under his direct 
command were the shore-based air group, the naval escort, cover, supply, 
and service groups, the floating Army reserve, and a force consisting of the 
4th Infantry and one engineer regiment which, after Attu had been taken, 
was to occupy Shemya Island and construct an airfield there. Under the direct 
command of Admiral Rockwell was the assault force, which consisted of 
the naval air and fire support group, the transport group, a mine sweeper 
group, and the landing force under General Brown, who was to assume tac- 
tical command ashore from the time of landing. 15 

The lack of information on topography and offshore hazards made it 
necessary to prepare several optional plans. By the time the main assault 
force sailed from San Francisco on 24 April five different plans of operation 
had been worked out. Under Plan A the major landing was to take place in 
Massacre Bay and a secondary one was to be made at a small beach (Beach 
Red) 600 yards west of the entrance to Holtz Bay. Under Plan B the major 
assault was to be launched from Sarana Bay. Plan C was based on landing 
the entire force in Massacre Bay. In Plan D as in Plans A and B, two land- 
ings were to take place: the major one in the West Arm of Holtz Bay and 
the other at Beach Red. Plan E provided for three landings: one at either 

13 Hq Landing Force (TF 51.4) FO 1, 17 Apr 43, with Intelligence an. 3 and app. 1 to an. 3, 
(Study of Jackboot as known 15 April 1943)- 

14 Rad, CINCPAC to CG WDC and COMINCH, 25 Mar 43, OPD 381/54; Attu Operations 
(Gen Brown's account), p. 9; ONI Combat Narrative, Aleutians Campaign, p. 76. 

15 Morison, Aleutians, Gilberts and Marskalls, app. I; Ltr, Adm Nimitz to Gen DeWitt, 22 
Mar 43, OCMH files. 



Beach Red or the West Arm of Holtz Bay, another in Massacre Bay, and 
a third in Sarana Bay. 16 Final decision as to which plan to adopt was post- 
poned until the arrival of the force at its rendezvous at Cold Bay, where it 
was hoped more reliable information as to navigable waters could be ob- 
tained from Aleutian pilots. Admiral Rockwell was inclined to view Plans 
B and D with disfavor, and General Brown preferred not to depend on a 
single effort, as in plan C J7 At Cold Bay, a revised Plan E was, after con- 
siderable discussion and study, adopted as the plan of attack. Sarana Bay 
was ruled out entirely. The major landing was to take place at Massacre Bay, 
and a landing on the north side of the island was to be made wherever it 
proved most feasible by a reconnaissance on the morning of D-day. The 
main force, landing at Massacre Bay, was to "advance rapidly" up the val- 
ley, seize the passes leading to Holtz and Sarana Bays, and then move into 
the Holtz Bay area where it was to join the northern force in destroying the 
enemy in that vicinity. As soon as this had been done, the main force was 
to advance against Chichagof Harbor, while the northern force secured the 
valley running west from Holtz Bay. 18 The assumption apparently continued 
to be that not more than three days would be required to take the island. 19 
Delayed twenty-four hours because of weather, the attack force headed 
out of Cold Bay on 4 May and turned westward through chill rain and a 
stormy sea toward Attu. D-day was set for 8 May. As the force drew near 
the run-in point 115 miles off the north shore of Attu, the weather grew 
even worse. Admiral Kinkaid ordered Admiral Rockwell to postpone the 
landing a day. While Admiral Rockwell took his battleships off to the west 
on the strength of a rumor that a strong Japanese force was approaching 
from that direction, the transports and a destroyer screen circled eastward in 
the dense fog, rain, and rough seas. With the weather continuing foul and 
reconnaissance planes reporting that a heavy surf was running on the land- 
ing beaches, Admiral Kinkaid again postponed D-day. Finally, as there 

16 Hq Landing Force, FO No. i, 17 Apr 43, incorporates all five plans. The plan E included 
in the field orders is, however, a later, although not the final version. The original Plan E, to 
judge from its Engineer Annex, dated 17 April, was in general as given above. 

17 Memo, Adm Rockwell for Gen Brown, 29 Apr 43, sub: FO 1, in OCMH files; undated 
summary of the operation by General Brown in same file; Attu Operations (Gen Brown's account), 
pp. 16-17. 

18 Hq Landing Force (TF 51.4), FO i, Plan E (corrected copy), 2 May 43; and G-3 Journal 
Vouchers, 16 Apr-10 May 43. The Journal Voucher file was the daily message and memoranda 
file, usually designated "journal file" as distinct from the bare record of incoming and outgoing 
messages and memorandums usually designated the "journal," but which in the case of TF 51.4 
was termed the "journal file." 

19 Attu Operations (Gen Brown's account), p. 8. 



seemed to be no prospect of the weather clearing, he ordered the attack to 
proceed, on n May. In the midst of the fog the battleships made rendez- 
vous with the transports on the evening of 10 May, and the force split into 
two groups for the approach. 20 General Brown, who had his headquarters 
on board the transport Zeilin, accompanied the group heading for Massacre 
Bay. Admiral Rockwell, in Pennsylvania, remained off the northern coast. 21 

The weather had helped to frustrate plans of the Eleventh Air Force for 
softening up Attu before the assault. The Army had concentrated about two 
dozen of its most efficient fighter-bombers on Amchitka for preinvasion 
bombings of the island, and during the ten days preceding the landings 
Army planes dropped 95 tons of bombs on Attu. But the foul weather that 
forced the postponement of the landings for four days stopped all attack 
missions against Attu during the same period, and also most of the more 
elaborate air support measures planned for D-day. 22 

The assault opened according to plan, quietly, like a commando raid, 
when the 7th Scout Company paddled ashore from submarines in the pre- 
dawn darkness on a small beach (Beach Scarlet) about four miles northwest 
of Beach Red, on the north shore of the island. This unit, the 7th Scout 
Company, was part of a Provisional Battalion commanded by Capt. Wil- 
liam H. Willoughby, the remainder of which consisted of the 7th Division's 
Reconnaissance Troop (minus one platoon) . The Reconnaissance Troop, on 
board the destroyer Kane, was scheduled to follow the Scout Company 
ashore immediately, but a blanket of fog had again descended on the en- 
tire eastern end of the island and the Kane lost its bearing. As a result, the 
Reconnaissance Troop did not land until nearly noon. By then, the Scout 
Company had moved well up a steep valley that led south from the beach. 
At the head of the valley was a pass which gave access to one of the valleys 
leading back from Holtz Bay, and from which it was hoped the Scout 

20 Hq TF 51.4, G-3 Journal Vouchers, 16 Apr-io May 43 (entries for 4-10 May) ; Morison, 
Aleutians, Gilberts and Marshalls. pp. 40-41; ONI Combat Narrative, Aleutians Campaign, 
pp. 76-77- 

21 Experience during the North African landings, six months earlier, had demonstrated the ill- 
advisedness of establishing force headquarters on a vessel that might be called away on tactical 
missions. (See Morison, Operations in North African Waters, pp. 104-105.) Before leaving San 
Francisco, Admiral Rockwell had urged General Brown to establish himself aboard the battleship 
Pennsylvania, but General Brown had rightly insisted that to do so might prevent him from going 
ashore at the proper time, if for any reason the battleship had to leave the actual scene of landing. 
One solution, adopted at Guadalcanal, was to establish force headquarters on a transport. The 
Zeilin, however, according to Admiral Rockwell, was not large enough to accommodate both 
headquarters. Later a special class of amphibious command ships (AGC), designed before the 
war but not yet in service in 1943, was used for this very purpose. 

22 Craven and Cate, eds., The Pacific — Guadalcanal to Saipan, pp. 380-83. 

Attu Landings. Massacre Bay, as the 4th Infantry moved inland ( top ). The west 
arm ofHoltz Bay viewed from the ridge over which the troops advanced (bottom J. Note 
crashed Japanese Zero. 



Company could attack the enemy in the rear. Meanwhile a reconnaissance 
party of Alaskan Scouts and Company A, 17th Infantry, had groped its way 
through the pea-soup fog to a landing on Beach Red. Its mission was to ex- 
plore the feasibility of using this beach to land the entire northern force, a 
combat team (BCT 17-1) built around the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry. 
Two obstacles presented themselves: a rock-studded approach that pre- 
vented more than two or three boats from unloading at one time; and a 
steep escarpment that began about 75 yards from the water's edge and rose 
to a height of 200 or 250 feet above the beach. From the top of this bluff , a 
fairly level, but broken, tableland stretched south along the coast to the 
heights overlooking Holtz Bay. The Navy beachmaster and Col. Frank L. 
Cullin, commanding officer of the 32d Infantry who had gone ashore with the 
reconnaissance party, reported that a landing on Beach Red was feasible, and 
at 1230 Lt. Col. Albert E. Hartl, commanding officer of BCT 17-1, re- 
quested General Brown's permission to land the rest of his troops. On board 
the Zeilin off Massacre Bay, General Brown had been waiting impatiently 
for the fog to lift enough to permit the main landings to take place. The 
first assault waves had been on the water since shortly after 0800, awaiting 
better visibility and a signal to proceed, while H-hour was twice postponed. 
Finally, at about the same time that he received Colonel Hard's request, 
General Brown received a message from Admiral Rockwell advising him 
that, since the weather now promised to improve, the boats should be sent 
off as soon as they could feel their way into Massacre Bay. When General 
Brown was assured that the landing craft could return to the transports for 
a second trip, he recommended that the Massacre Bay assault begin at 1530 
and that Colonel Hard. land his force on Beach Red as soon as he was ready. 
At 1615, Company B, 17th Infantry, set foot on Beach Red. Minutes later, 
advance elements of the 2d and 3d Battalions, 17th Infantry, landed on 
Beaches Blue and Yellow, in Massacre Bay. 23 

No enemy opposition was encountered at any of the landing beaches. 
The fog, which hampered the landings, likewise concealed them from the 
enemy. For several weeks the Japanese had known that an attack on their 
Aleutian outposts was in the offing, although until the end of April they 
thought Kiska would be the target. Their first intimation of the American 
approach to Attu came at 0200 on 11 May, when planes from the carrier 

23 The foregoing is based on messages recorded in Hq TF 514, G-3 Journal File, and G-3 
Journal Vouchers (entries for n May) ; on Smith, Preliminary Rpt on Attu Landing, pp. 6-7; 
ONI Combat Narrative, Aleutians Campaign pp. 79-81; Attu Operations (Gen Brown's account), 
p. 20. 


Nassau combined a bombing and strafing run over Chichagof Harbor with 
the dropping of leaflets demanding surrender. At iooo, Colonel Yamazaki 
was informed of American shipping offshore and he ordered combat posi- 
tions strengthened. Shortly thereafter, battleships Pennsylvania and Idaho 
engaged in a radar-controlled bombardment of the Chichagof area. The 
enemy responded by strengthening the defensive positions that guarded the 
passes leading out of Massacre Valley. 24 

By 2130, five hours after the main landings commenced, a total of 3,500 
men had gone ashore; 400 at Beach Scarlet, 1,100 at Beach Red, and 2,000 
at Massacre Bay. The Northern Landing Force, BCT 17-1, had made con- 
tact with the enemy at about 1800, when a patrol party that was moving 
along the beach at the foot of the escarpment encountered four unsuspecting 
Japanese about a mile southwest of Goltsov Point. Two of the Japanese 
were killed; the other two escaped. Soon afterward the beach patrol came 
under the fire of the dual-purpose guns at the head of Holtz Bay, and its 
advance slowed. The main body of BCT 17-1, on the tableland above the 
escarpment, had continued on apparently undetected. Its objective was Hill 
X, an 800-foot camel back about two miles south of Beach Red, which 
dominated the Japanese positions at the head of Holtz Bay. By 2230 the 
gathering darkness merged with the thick fog to disguise the lay of the land 
completely. BCT 17-1 dug in for the night, not quite sure where it was, but 
hoping that the hill on which its outpost positions were placed was Hill X. 2a 
The Provisional Battalion, which had landed on Beach Scarlet, had been 
climbing most of the day up a steep watercourse. By midafternoon the ad- 
vance unit, the 7th Scout Company, had reached an elevation of nearly 2,500 
feet, at what appeared to be the summit of the pass. But from here on the 
only maps the men had were blank. Rather than risk getting thoroughly 
lost in the uncharted jumble of peaks, ridges, and canyons that lay beyond, 
Captain Willoughby ordered his men to bivouac for the night. 26 

The Southern Landing Force, advancing in Massacre Valley, had come 
under enemy fire shortly after 1800. BCT 17-2, which was moving up along 

24 Japanese Monograph 46, pp. 111— 18; Morison, Aleutians, Gilberts and Mars halls, p. 43. 

25 BCT 17-1, Unit Journal for 11 May; Smith, Preliminary Rpt on Attu Landing, pp. 6-7; 
ONI Combat Narrative, Aleutians Campaign, p. Si. The Smith report places the first encounter 
with the Japanese at 1900, which does not quite correspond with the unit journal. 

- R Maj Gen Eugene M. Landrum, CG Landing Force, Rpt of Operations — Attu, 22 Jun 43, 
pp. 3-4; ONI Combat Narrative, Aleutians Campaign, pp. 78-79; Drummond, Attu Operation, 
X pp. 99-102; Personal' Narrative by 1st Sgt. Fentpn Hamlin, in the War Department's The 
Capture of Attu: As Told by the Men Who Fought There (Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 
1944), PP- 64-68. The narrative introducing this volume provides an excellent summary of tactical 
operations on Attu. 



the right side of the hogback and along the floor of the valley to the east, 
had advanced approximately 2,500 yards when it was stopped by rifle and 
machine gun fire coming from the high ridge, later named Gilbert Ridge, 
that formed the east rim of the Massacre Valley. After being pinned down 
for about forty-five minutes, the battalion began working forward, although 
it was still under scattered rifle fire. Immediately the enemy fire became 
more intense, mortars and light artillery joined in, and BCT 17-2 was again 
stopped. Unable to move in any direction, at 2100 the battalion dug in for 
the night along the east slope of the hogback about 3,000 yards from the 
beach which it had left almost five hours earlier. 27 On the left flank, west 
of the hogback, BCT 17-3 had made about the same progress. Somewhat be- 
hind in the early stages of the advance, BCT 17-3 caught up with BCT 17-2 
when the latter was stopped. It was now 2030. The two battalions, BCT 17-2 
on the right side of the hogback and BCT 17-3 in the west arm of the val- 
ley, were abreast of each other, with the enemy in front of them firing from 
the heights that guarded the passes to Holtz Bay and Sarana Bay and from 
the ridges on both sides of the valley. At the request of BCT 17-3 the 105- 
mm. guns back at the beachhead delivered a concentrated fire against the 
high ground at the head of the valley, and the battalion then attempted to 
resume its advance. But as soon as the artillery fire ended and the troops 
began to move forward, the Japanese again opened up. BCT 17-3 again 
halted and dug in somewhat ahead of BCT 17-2 on the other side of the 
hogback. 28 

While the two battalions had been moving up Massacre Valley, two 
small detachments had been sent out on each flank to secure the ridges, Gil- 
bert Ridge on the right and Henderson Ridge on the left. One of these 
detachments, a platoon of the 7th Reconnaissance Troop, landed on Alexai 
Point about four miles east of Massacre Bay Beach and halfway out the 
peninsula toward Chirikof Point. It was assigned the mission of establishing 
an outpost line across the peninsula from Alexai Point to Sarana Bay, of 
reconnoitering (< to the west to include area between Lake Nicholas and 
Massacre Bay," and of afterwards reconnoitering the peninsula to the east, 
in the direction of Chirikof Point. It was to "make contact and co-ordinate 
efforts" with a platoon of the 17th Infantry in the pass between Sarana Bay 
and Massacre Bay. After landing on Alexai Point, the platoon from the 7th 
Reconnaissance Troop was out of contact with the main landing force for 

27 BCT 17-2, Action Rpt, and Unit Journal (n May) ; RLG 17, Action Rpt (11 May). 

28 BCT 17-3, Action Rpt, and Unit Journal (11 May). 



two days. During this time it encountered none of the enemy and played no 
direct part in the battle. Had the Japanese attempted to infiltrate across Gil- 
bert Ridge, the platoon might have played a more active role, even though 
its position was far to the east of any probable point of counterattack. The 
other platoon was from Company F, 17th Infantry. Reinforced with a light 
machine gun section and a 60-mm. mortar squad, this platoon had moved 
east along the shore of Massacre Bay and up into a steep pass leading over 
Gilbert Ridge to Sarana Beach. Its mission was to seize this pass and the 
"high ground along right flank" (i. e., Gilbert Ridge), to establish defensive 
positions in the Sarana end of the pass from which Sarana Beach and Lake 
Nicholas could be fired upon, and to "clear the ridge of enemy." It was to 
assist BCT 17-2, "if practicable," in the capture of the important pass at the 
head of Massacre Valley by firing on enemy installations at the western end 
ot Gilbert Ridge. The platoon climbed all night and on the morning after 
D-day it was on the Sarana Beach side of the mountains. There it was dis- 
covered by the Japanese. For two days the men fought off strong enemy 
patrols, while they struggled westward along Gilbert Ridge. They finally 
managed to rejoin the main force in Massacre Valley near the point where 
BCT 17-2 had established itself on the night of D-day. The full story of 
their experience is one of the minor epics of Attu. 29 Meanwhile, the detach- 
ments which had been sent out on the left flank of the Southern Landing 
Force to secure Henderson Ridge and the country beyond had likewise run 
into difficulty. A platoon of Company I, 17th Infantry, which on landing 
at Massacre Beach had been dispatched to secure the valley side of the ridge, 
found rough going along the lower slopes. When fog and darkness finally 
halted the platoon, it had reached a point approximately 700 yards short of 
the position where BCT 17-3 had established itself in the valley. A week 
later, on 18 May, the platoon was only some 500 yards beyond its original 
positions. Further out on the left flank, behind Henderson Ridge, Company 
F of the 3 2d Infantry ran into several blind alleys after reaching its first ob- 
jective, Temnac Cove. Although delayed by having landed farther to the 
east than it should have, Company F reached Temnac Cove by nightfall of 
D-day. There an enemy outpost was discovered and destroyed before the 
defenders were aware of the approaching Americans. Company F reported 
that its first mission, that of clearing the Temnac Cove area, was accom- 

29 RLG 17 Action Rpt, Overlay 11-14 May; Personal Narratives by Lt Charles K. Paulson, 
Cpl Mike M. Brusuelas, and Cpl Paul H. Doty, in The Capture of Attu, pp. 27-31. The quotations 
are from Field Order No. 1, Plan E (corrected copy), 2 May 43, in Landing Force (Task Force 51.4) 
G-3 Journal Vouchers (2 May). 



plished. The next morning the company proceeded on its second mission, to 
move northeast toward Holtz Bay, under orders to clear, as it went, all 
enemy installations from the flank of the main landing force advancing up 
Massacre Valley. It made no progress, however. Everywhere it turned it 
found itself in a cul-de-sac, and finally General Brown ordered the company 
to retrace its steps to Massacre Beach. 30 

When General Brown went ashore toward the end of D-day the tactical 
situation was far from clear, but what information was available would not 
have indicated that a long drawn-out struggle was in prospect. The South- 
ern Landing Force appeared to be close to its immediate objective — the 
passes leading from the head of Massacre Valley to Holtz Bay and Sarana 
Bay. BCT 17-3 reported that its position was about 600 yards short of the 
Holtz Bay pass, and BCT 17-2 was believed to be within 1,000 yards of the 
pass leading to Sarana Bay. There was a possibility that, on the northern 
front, BCT 17-1 had reached its first objective, Hill X. BCT 32-2, except 
for Company F, had not yet been committed, and the other two battalions 
of the 32d Infantry were due to arrive from Adak within twenty-four hours. 
If additional reinforcements were needed, General Buckner was willing to 
release for this purpose the 4th Infantry, which was being held in readiness 
to occupy Shemya Island as soon as Attu was secured. 31 Everything con- 
sidered, it would not have been unreasonable to suppose that within a few 
days the island would be taken. 

Unfortunately, things were not entirely as they seemed. When the situa- 
tion began to unfold on the morning of D plus i, it became apparent that 
a long, hard fight was in store. In Massacre Valley, BCT 17-2 was at least 
500 yards further from its objective than it had supposed, and BCT 17-3, 
apparently having mistaken a blind valley (Zwinge Valley) for the Holtz 
Bay pass, was a good 2,000 yards south of its immediate objective. Since 
neither Gilbert Ridge nor Henderson Ridge had been cleared, both batta- 
lions came under fire from each flank as well as from the front. BCT 17-2, 
which had been ordered to consolidate and hold its position with mission of 
blocking the Sarana-Massacre pass, thus found it necessary to move forward 
over very rough terrain in the face of heavy fire. Among the casualties was 
the regimental commander, Col. Edward P. Earle, killed by machine gun 
fire while with one of the forward elements. His death was a severe blow 

30 RLG 17, Action Rpt, and Overlay (n May); Hq Landing Force (TF 51.4), G-3 Journal 
File and Journal Vouchers (11-12 May) ; Attu Operations (Gen Brown's account), pp. 22, 27, 28. 
S1 On the eve of the Attu landing, on 4 May, Buckner was promoted to lieutenant general. 


to the 17th Infantry, and, in appointing Col. Wayne L. Zimmerman to take 
his place, General Brown deprived himself of the services of an extremely 
able chief of staff. At the end of D plus 1 the battalion was in position to 
block the pass, but the Japanese defenses were still intact. To the left of the 
hogback, BCT 17-3 managed to move forward to the rising ground at the 
mouth of the Holtz Bay-Massacre (Jarmin) pass, where it was pinned 
down. Frontal attacks against the mouth of the pass failed completely on 
each of the two days following, although BCT 17-3 now had the support 
of BCT 32-2 (minus Company F) . By the middle of D plus 3 (14 May), 
it appeared that the Massacre Valley assault was stalemated. 32 On the north 
side of the island, BCT 17-1 was faring no better in its attack against Holtz 
Bay. The height reached by the battalion on the night of D-day turned out 
to be some 900 yards short of Hill X, which the Japanese had occupied dur- 
ing the night. After bitter day-long fighting, BCT 17-1 won its objective 
during the early evening of D plus 1, but another two days passed before 
it could force the stubbornly resisting Japanese off the reverse slope and the 
shoulders of the hill. At the end of D plus 3, the battalion, now joined by 
BCT 32-3, was only 300 yards nearer Holtz Bay, while the Provisional Bat- 
talion, which had moved down into the canyon leading to the rear of the 
Holtz Bay positions, had been bottled up in the same position for nearly 
three days, about a mile from the mouth of the canyon. 33 In a memorandum 
for Admiral Rockwell, General Brown summed up these first days of the 
battle in the following words: 

Reconnaissance and experience of four days fighting indicates Japanese tactics com- 
prise fighting with machine guns and snipers concealed in rain washes or in holes or 
trenches dug in each side and at varying heights of hill along narrow passes leading 
through mountain masses. These positions are difficult to locate and almost impossible 
to shoot out with artillery. They produce casualties in excess of casualties which can be 
returned. Number of machine gun positions out of proportion to estimated enemy 
strength. In addition, small infantry groups are dug in high up on sides of pass parallel 
to axis of approach through pass as well as all commanding terrain features in passes. 
Impossible to approach positions on sides of pass from above due to precipitous slopes 
more or less snow covered and extremely slippery footing. Progress through passes will, 
unless we are extremely lucky, be slow and costly, and will require troops in excess to 
those now available to my command. 34 

32 RLG 17, Action Rpt and Overlays (11-14 May) ; BCT 17-2, Unit Journal; and BCT i7~3» 
Unit Journal. 

33 BCT 17-1 Unit Journal and Overlays; Smith, Preliminary Rpt on Attu Landing. 

34 Memo, Gen Brown for CTF 51 (Adm Rockwell), 14 May 43, Hq TF 51.4, G-3 Journal 
Vouchers (item 35, 14 May). 



After repeated inquiries on the part of General Brown, the two batta- 
lions of the 32c! Infantry (BCT 32-3 and BCT 32-1) that constituted the 
force reserve had arrived at Attu on 13 May (D plus 2). Although their 
arrival greatly eased the solution, General Brown and his staff were of the 
opinion that further reinforcements were necessary, specifically, part of the 
501st AA Battalion, and a few miscellaneous units of the 7th Division, 
which were at Adak, and che 4th Infantry, which General Buckner had 
promised to make available for tactical employment on Attu if needed. At 
a conference on board the Pennsylvania, on 15 May, Admiral Rockwell was 
not at first convinced that these additional troops were necessary, but he 
finally agreed to forward General Brown's recommendations to Admiral 
Kinkaid with his concurrence. 35 Upon his return from the conference aboard 
Admiral Rockwell's flagship, General Brown drafted a message for Gen- 
eral DeWitt, who was then at Adak, informing him that he had "made 
frequent attempts to . . . procure additional troops but without success," 
and requesting General DeWitt's assistance in the matter. 36 

Both Admiral Kinkaid and Admiral Rockwell were becoming increasingly 
concerned over the exposed position of the naval support forces. Japanese 
submarines were in the area. A torpedo had just missed the Pennsylvania on 
D plus 1 and on the morning of 15 May, soon after General Brown had 
returned on shore from his conference with Admiral Rockwell, four torpedoes 
narrowly missed one of the transports near the flagship. The other two battle- 
ships, Nevada and Idaho, had expended all their 14-inch high-capacity am- 
munition and, with their screen, had withdrawn to the northward to await 
orders. In view of the submarine threat, Admiral Kinkaid thought that the 
naval support group had tarried long enough in the dangerous waters of Attu. 
Accordingly, Admiral Rockwell had informed General Brown during the 
conference of 15 May that the ships would withdraw the next day, or in any 
event no later than the 17th. The continued requests for reinforcements, a 
long dispatch requesting large quantities of engineering and road building 
equipment, and the lack of any positive indications of a speedy breakthrough 
ashore persuaded Admiral Kinkaid that General Brown was bogged down. 
General DeWitt and General Buckner, whom Kinkaid consulted, agreed with 
him that it was necessary to relieve General Brown. Upon their recommenda- 
tion, Admiral Kinkaid appointed General Landrum to take over the com- 
mand of Attu. The new commander arrived on the scene during the afternoon 

35 Attu Operations (General Brown's account), pp. 35-36. 

36 A handwritten draft message, Gen Brown to CG WDC, in Hq TF 51.4, G-3 Journal 
Vouchers (item 12, 15 May). The G-3 Journal File lists this message as dated and "IN" at 1020. 



of 16 May and assumed command of the landing force at 1700, just as the 
fighting for Holtz Bay was reaching its final stage. 37 

General Brown's relief coincided with an advance of the Northern Force 
that broke the deadlock on Attu. Intense shelling by naval guns and bombard- 
ment from the air persuaded the enemy to start withdrawing from the West 
Arm area at Holtz Bay on 14 May, and on the next two days the Northern 
Force after making contact with the Provisional Battalion moved into the 
West Arm area and, against hot resistance, on to the high ridge that separated 
the two arms of the bay. The ridge itself was won during the night of 16 May. 
This placed the Northern Force (BCT 17-1 and BCT 32-3) directly in the 
rear of the Japanese defending the Massacre Valley pass, and on the morning 
of 17 May the Japanese began to withdraw toward Chichagof Harbor. The 
junction of the Northern and Southern Forces took place during the early 
morning hours of 18 May (D plus 7), when a patrol from K Company of 
BCT 17-3 met the 7th Reconnaissance Company on the western slope of the 
Holtz Bay-Massacre Pass. 38 

The Japanese withdrawal and the junction of forces marked the turning 
point of the campaign. Although nearly two weeks more of hard, costly fight- 
ing remained, the uncertainty and frustration of the first few days on Attu 
never recurred. It was a slow business taking the machine gun and mortar 
nests left on the heights by the retreating Japanese, but eventually the com- 
bined American force, reinforced with a battalion of the 4th Infantry, drew 
a net around Chichagof Harbor. 39 The end came on one phrenetic night when 
most of the surviving Japanese, from about seven hundred to a thousand 
strong, charged madly through the American lines, screaming, killing, and 
being killed. The next day, 30 May, the enemy announced the loss of Attu, 
and units of the 3 2d, 17th, and 4th Infantry cleared out pockets of surviving 

a7 ONI Combat Narrative, Aleutians Campaign, pp. 84-88; Morison, Aleutians, Gilberts and 
Marsballs, pp. 47-49; Attu Operations (Gen Brown's account), p. 35, and Rpt of Operations — 
Attu (Gen Landrum's Rpt), p. 7; Ltrs, Adm Kinkaid to Actg Chief of Military History, 11 Apr 
59, and Gen Brown to Chief of Military History, 26 Apr 62, in OCMH file. 

General Brown has contended, with much justification, that the assumptions of conditions on. 
Attu upon which his relief was premised were not in fact correct, and he also believes that these 
assumptions should have been checked before such an irrevocable step was taken. Before his new 
appointment, General Landrum commanded the Adak base. He had been promoted to the rank of 
major general in March. 

38 BCT 17-3, Action Rpt and Unit Journal (17-18 May) ; RLG 17, Action Rpt (17 May). 

39 For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty on 
26 May, Pvt. Joe P. Martinez of Company K, 3 2d Infantry, was posthumously awarded the Medal 
of Honor. For extraordinary heroism and inspiring leadership in a series of actions beginning on 
16 May, the commander of the 17th Infantry, Colonel Zimmerman, was awarded the Distinguished 
Service Cross. Twelve distinguished unit citations were also awarded after the Attu operation, 
nine of them for unit actions after 17 May. 



enemy troops as they advanced to occupy the Chichagof installations. Although 
mopping-up operations continued for several days, organized resistance ended 
with the wild charge of 29 May, and Attu was once more in American hands. 40 
Out of a force that totaled more than 15,000 men before the campaign 
ended, 549 Americans had given their lives on Attu, 1,148 had been wounded, 
and about 2,100 had been taken out of action by disease and nonbattle injuries. 
Most of the nonbattle casualties were exposure cases, victims of the climate 
and weather and of inadequate clothing. Trench foot was the most common 
affliction. 41 The Japanese lost their entire force: approximately 2,350 enemy 
dead were counted and 29 taken prisoner. 42 The price of victory was high. 
In terms of numbers engaged, Attu ranks as one of the most costly assaults 
in the Pacific. In terms of Japanese destroyed, the cost of taking Attu was 
second only to Iwo Jima: for every hundred of the enemy on the island, about 
seventy-one Americans were killed or wounded. 

Kiska — Grand Anticlimax 

Before the guns had ceased firing on Attu, preparations got under way 
for the next moves against the Japanese in the Aleutians. An airfield was 
begun on Alexai Point, scene of one of the Attu landings, and on 30 May 
garrison troops and engineers landed on Shemya Island, thirty-five miles east 
of Attu, to begin construction of a bomber field there. Fighter strips were 
completed at both places before June ended, and in mid- July bombers from 
the new Alexai Point field made their first strike against Japan, a raid against 
the northern Kurils. 

Even before the Attu landings took place preparations had been started 
for assaulting Kiska 43 For this purpose on 4 May 1943 General DeWitt's 
headquarters had authorized the activation of an amphibious training force 
under General Corlett. Preliminary training was to be conducted at Fort Ord 
and San Diego by the Joint Staff that had planned the Attu operation, but ad- 
vanced training at Adak was also to be provided. As a result of the Attu 

40 RLG 17, Action Rpt (29-31 May) and overlays, and Rpt of Operations — Attu (Gen 
Landrum's Rpt), pp. 12-13. 

41 Control Div, Surgeon General's Office, Medical Report of Attu Campaign, 6 Dec 44, in 

42 Official Hist of the Alaskan Dept, ch. IV. 

43 Unless otherwise noted, the sources of the following account of the Kiska operation are: 
Official Hist of the Alaskan Dept, ch. V, and a draft narrative by Capt Nelson L. Drummond, 
entitled History of Kiska Occupation, in OCMH. The two sources for the most part duplicate 
each other. 



experience and of revised estimates of the Japanese strength on Kiska, the 
assault force was doubled in size over that originally planned and among 
the additions were a mountain combat team, a regimental combat team from 
the Alaska Defense Command, and the hard-bitten First Special Service Force, 
all of them trained in the type of fighting that had developed on Attu. It was 
decided also, after the Attu campaign ended, to substitute the battle-tested 
17th Regiment for one of the infantry units from California. By the end of 
July, about 34,000 Allied troops were assembled at Adak and Amchitka for 
final training in preparation for the assault on Kiska. Included among them 
was a Canadian brigade group numbering 4,800 officers and enlisted men, 
and about 700 men of the First Special Service Force were Canadians. 44 The 
enemy's strength on Kiska was estimated at from 9,000 to 10,000 men. 
Although some of the War Department planners favored postponing the 
operation, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, upon the recommendation of the Joint 
Staff Planners, gave their formal approval on 22 June 45 General DeWi tt 
and Admiral Nimitz designated 15 August as the target date. The force com- 
manders, in conference at Adak on 30 July, decided that D-day ought to be 
postponed until 24 August to permit further training and regrouping of 
the battalion combat teams; but Admiral Nimitz was opposed to the delay, 
and D-day was definitely set for 15 August 46 

Unlike Attu, Kiska was subjected to a heavy preinvasion bombardment. 
Reinforced during June and operating from the new airfields, the Eleventh 
Air Force dropped a total of 424 tons of bombs on Kiska during the month 
of July, On 6 July and 22 July, strong naval task groups blasted the island 
with an additional 330 tons of explosives. 47 On 2 August a strong force 
consisting of two battleships, two heavy cruisers, three light cruisers, and 
nine destroyers carried out another bombardment, supported by seventeen 
bombers and eight fighters of the Eleventh Air Force. Over 200 tons of shells 
and bombs fell on Kiska on that day. Two days later, on 4 August, the 
Eleventh Air Force dropped a record-breaking 152 tons of bombs. Returning 
fliers claimed excellent results and reported "only meager and inaccurate" 
flak and small arms fire. Then, for several days while bad weather grounded 

44 Col Charles P. Stacey, The Canadian Army, • 1 939-1 945: An Official Historical Summary 
(Ottawa: King's Printer, 1948), pp. 290-97. See also, by the same author, Six Years of War: 
The Army in Canada, Britain, and the Pacific, ch. XV. 

45 Memo, Brig Gen Albert C. Wedemeyer for Gen Hull, 31 May 43; Memo, Col John C 
Blizzard, Jr., for Gen Handy, 10 Jun 43. Both in OPD 381/132. 

46 ONI Combat Narrative, Aleutians Campaign, p. 101. 

47 OPD Diary, entry of 4 Aug 43 ; Craven and Cate, eds., The Pacific — Guadalcanal to Saipan, 
PP- 387-88 ; ONI Combat Narrative, Aleutians Campaign, pp. 94-97. 



the Army bombers, destroyers of the naval blockading force continued the 
attack. On 10 August the Eleventh Air Force came back into the picture with 
another hard blow, and between then and D-day it dropped 335 tons of 
bombs on Kiska. 48 

Surprisingly enough, most pilots saw no signs of activity on the island; 
a few reported that they had encountered light antiaircraft fire. Earlier, there 
had been considerable success against Japanese submarines going to and 
from Kiska; then the enemy submarine traffic seemed to stop. The reports 
were the cause of considerable speculation at Admiral Kinkaid's head- 
quarters. On one occasion, when someone raised the question whether the 
Japanese might not have been evacuating troops by submarine, Admiral 
Kinkaid, with a laugh, .said he'd be glad to provide free transportation to 
Japan for half their garrison. His serious opinion was that the enemy had 
taken to the hills, as they had on Attu, and after wrecking all installations 
not already destroyed by the air and sea bombardment, were digging in for 
a last stand back from the beaches. The possibility of evacuation was not 
ignored, however. Shortly before D-day the suggestion was made that a 
small reconnaissance party be landed on Kiska by submarine in order to 
clear up the situation, but it was vetoed by Admiral Kinkaid. His position 
was that if the Japanese were still on the island the assault force was ready 
for them, but a reconnaissance party might be wiped out; that if the Japanese 
were not there, a landing would be a "super dress rehearsal, good for train- 
ing purposes," and the only foreseeable loss would be merely the let-down 
experienced by the highly keyed troops. 49 With D-day only a few days away, 
Admiral Kinkaid decided to let the assault proceed as planned, without 
sending in a reconnaissance party. 

Early on the morning of 15 August General Corlett's forces made a feint 
toward the south shore of Kiska and then landed on the north and west sides 
of the island. Not a shot was fired as the troops came ashore and moved 
up into the mist-shrouded interior. As on Attu, complete surprise seemed 
to have been achieved. All through the first night and the next day, and for 
several days afterward, American and Canadian patrols probed deeper into 
the island, occasionally hearing the noise of gunfire, but never encountering 
any Japanese. Kiska was an uninhabited island. The only guns that fired 
were those of friend against friend, and partly on that account casualties 
ashore during the first four days of the operation numbered 21 dead and 

48 Craven and Cate, eds., The Pacific— Guadalcanal to Saipan, pp. 390-92. 

49 Ltr, Adm Kinkaid to Acting Chief of Military History, n Apr 59, in OCMH files. 


121 sick or wounded. The Navy lost 70 dead or missing and 47 wounded 
when destroyer Abner Read struck a mine on 18 August. 50 

The entire enemy garrison had slipped away unseen, as the remnants of 
the Japanese Army on Guadalcanal had done six months earlier. To make 
the embarrassment complete, the Kiska evacuation had been carried out as 
early as 28 July, almost three weeks before the Allied landings. The original 
plan of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters had been to withdraw 
the garrison gradually, by submarine, but this scheme had been given up 
late in June because of the loss or damaging of most of the submarines 
assigned to the operation and because of some anxiety that, by weakening 
the garrison over a prolonged period, the operation might fail. It was then 
decided to evacuate the entire force at one time, in one movement, using 
cruisers and destroyers as transports. The date, at first fixed for early July, 
was postponed until 28 July. 51 Between then and D-day Kiska had been 
under attack and close surveillance by American naval units and the Eleventh 
Air Force, but the reports of flak and Japanese activity when there was none, 
which inexperienced observers brought back, obscured all the evidence from 
which the proper deduction might have been drawn. 52 Surprise was achieved, 
but it was not the Japanese who were surprised. 

The retaking of Attu was the high point of the war, as far as it concerned 
Alaska. Kiska was anticlimactic, and what happened afterward was chiefly 
a matter of tying up the loose threads of unfinished business: of deciding 
upon the role that Alaska and the Aleutians could play in defeating Japan, 
and of making the organizational changes that the situation seemed to require. 

In ridding the Aleutians of Japanese invaders, the objective had been 
partly to eliminate a potential military threat, but mostly to eradicate a 
psychological blot. As for using the western Aleutians as steppingstones to 
Japan, that idea had still to receive official imprimatur. General DeWitt and 
others had from time to time urged an assault by this route, but commitments 
to other theaters, and the desire of the Soviet Union not to have its neutrality 

50 Morison, Aleutians, Gilberts and Mars halls, pp. 63-64. 

51 Japanese accounts and documents relating to the Kiska evacuation are in the following 
Japanese monographs: 46, Aleutians Operations Record, June 1942-July 1943 ch. 7; 47, Northern 
Area Monthly Reports, Combat January-May 1943; 89, Northern Area Naval Operations, Feb- 
ruary 1943-August 1945. 

52 Japanese sources cited in the preceding footnote lend no support whatsoever to the supposi- 
tions in ONI Combat Narrative, Aleutians Campaign (page 104), and in Craven and Cate, eds., 
The Pacific — Guadalcanal to Sat pan, p. 392, that a small rear guard was left behind to man light 
AA weapons and was evacuated by submarine just before the Allied landings. 



with Japan compromised, had precluded acceptance of the idea. 53 With the 
Aleutians cleared, and about 144,000 American and Canadian troops in the 
Alaska-Aleutians area, a reconsideration of the strategic role of that area 
seemed to be in order. 54 

An invasion of Shumushu and Paramushiro, the northernmost of the 
Kuril Islands, was the substance of a plan that General DeWitt submitted 
to General Marshall early in August. This plan contemplated using the 
combined forces that had been engaged in the Attu and Kiska operations, 
after they had been raised to a strength of approximately 54,000 men. It 
proposed a reinforcement of the Eleventh Air Force in heavy and medium 
bombers in order to provide the necessary long-range air support, and recom- 
mended organizing a North American theater to carry out the invasion in 
April or May 1944. Neither the Army's Operations Division, nor the Navy 
as represented by Admiral King and Admiral Nimitz, nor the Joint Staff 
Planners saw any immediate possibility of implementing the plan. Pacific 
Fleet forces were fully committed to operations in the Central and South- 
Southwest Pacific Areas; the creation of a North American theater in the 
North Pacific was not acceptable to Admiral King; and the seizure of the 
two northern Kurils without immediately pressing on toward Japan proper 
would, according to the Operations Division, place the forces in a position 
as hazardous as that of the Japanese in Kiska had been. 55 In deciding against 
an invasion of the northern Kurils in early 1944, the Joint Chiefs neverthe- 
less held the door open to the possibility of the situation in the North Pacific 
being altered, perhaps in favor of invading the Kurils, by the entry of the 
Soviet Union into the war against Japan. The War Department accordingly 
directed General Buckner to co-operate with Admiral Kinkaid in planning 
an assault on Paramushiro with the target date, for planning purposes only, 
set for the spring of 194 5. 56 By the time the target date rolled around, the 

53 Memo, COMINCH for JCS, 21 Sep 42, WDCSA 381, and notes on JPS Mtg, 2 Dec 42, 
JPS 67/1 in ABC 381 Japan (5-31-42). 

54 Strength as of 4 Sep 43, as reported in Memo, CofS for JCS, 6 Sep 43, ABC 320.2 Alaska 
(i5_Aug 43). 

55 Plan for Suggested Offensive Operations in Northwestern Pacific, Incl to Ltr, Gen DeWitt 
to Gen Marshall, 2 Aug 43, ABC 384 Northwestern Pacific (16 Aug 43); Ltr, CINCPAC to 
COMINCH, 15 Aug 43, and Memo, COMINCH for CofS, 30 Aug 43. Last two in WDCSA 381. 
Memo, Gen Handy for CofS, 23 Sep 43, OPD 381/206. 

50 Memo, COMINCH for CofS, 5 Nov 43; Rad, OPD to CG Alaskan Dept, 8 Nov 43. Both 
in WDCSA 381. 



American forces on Iwo Jima and Okinawa were only half as far away from 
Tokyo as Paramushiro was. 57 

After August 1943, whatever plans were discussed or even drawn up 
for assaulting the Kurils or Japan proper, Alaska like the Caribbean area 
and the Atlantic bases, was actually called upon to retrench, to reduce the 
strength of its garrison and curtail facilities. Within two weeks after the 
reoccupation of Kiska, four bomber squadrons of the Eleventh Air Force 
were designated for withdrawal, a reduction of the garrison strength to 
80,000 by July 1944 was planned, the question of reducing the category of 
defense was brought up, and the reorganization of the Alaska Defense 
Command into a separate department was proposed. The cutback of bomber 
strength was carried out in September. In the following month, October, 
the separation of the Alaska Defense Command from the Western Defense 
Command and its redesignation as the Alaskan Department was announced, 
effective 1 November. 58 Both the proposed cut in garrison strength and the 
lowering of the category of defense were approved by the Joint Chiefs 
before the end of October. 59 By the end of 1943 Army forces in Alaska had 
been reduced to about 113,000 men and General Buckner was notified to 
prepare for a further cut — to a total strength of 50,ooo. 6 ° This figure was 
approximately reached by the end of 1944. In spite of the fact that at this 
time the possibility of staging an offensive via the Aleutians began to revive, 
the process of retrenchment continued, and no serious consideration of re- 
versing the trend was entertained. Any danger to Alaska and the Western 
Hemisphere had long since disappeared. 

57 For further details about planning for offensive operations against Japan via the North 
Pacific from summer 1943 onward see Louis Morton, Strategy and Command: The First Two Years, 
UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1962), ch. XXVI, and Matloff, 
Strategic Planning, 1943-44, PP- 3i6ff. For air plans, preparations, and operations, see Craven 
and Cate, eds., The Pacific — Guadalcanal to Sat pan, pp. 392-401. 

58 Memo, OPD for TAG, 7 Oct 43; Memo, OPD for COMINCH, 11 Nov 43. Both in OPD 

59 The Adak subsector of the Aleutians was reduced from category D to C, the Unalaska sub- 
section from D to B, and the rest of Alaska from B to "modified A." Rad, COMINCH to 
CINCPOA, 21 Oct 43, OPD Log file for October 43. For definitions of the categories of defense, 
see lch. IV] above. 

60 OPD Diary, Entries of 24 Jan 44 and 28 Jan 44. The first of these items gives the garrison 
strength as of 31 Dec 43. 


Forging the Defenses of the Canal 

For many years the Western Hemisphere's outstanding characteristic 
from the standpoint of defensive strategy had been the narrow inter- American 
Isthmus that stretches from Mexico to Colombia. Even after the bulge of 
Brazil caught the eye of Army planners the "wasp waist" of the hemisphere 
continued to be the more important object of attention. Its strategic importance 
came, however, not from its geographical position as a link between the 
two continents but rather from the man-made ditch that cuts across the 
Isthmus and links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The mobility given to the 
fleet by the Panama Canal is too obvious to require more than mention of 
the fact and the observation that a sea-minded President considered it suffi- 
cient reason for acquiring the land and building the Canal. Keeping the 
Canal open was a major aim of American military planners ever after. 

The Prewar Defenses 

During the 1930's, events and technological developments began to 
challenge the old axioms on which the defense of the Canal had been based. 
A crippling attack aimed at the locks and dams, and delivered either by an 
act of sabotage or by naval bombardment, had always been considered the 
only real danger to be guarded against. The possibility of hostile forces 
establishing a beachhead and moving overland to the Canal was not entirely 
discounted, but the absence of suitable landing places on the Atlantic side 
and the thick jungle of the Pacific lowlands were counted on to discourage 
any attack of this sort. The Army had disposed its defenses accordingly. 
Each terminus of the Canal was heavily protected by a concentration of sea- 
coast armament that at one time was regarded as the most powerful and 
effective of any in the world. In addition, the lock areas — at Gatun, Pedro 
Miguel, and Miraflores — were provided with field fortifications. The few 
planes that constituted the air defenses of the Canal were based, until 1931, 
on France Field, on the Atlantic side of the Isthmus. Then Albrook Field, 
at the Pacific terminus, was opened; but it proved to be usable only during 



the short dry season. 1 Coast artillery continued to provide the principal de- 
fense. Then, during the 1930's new instruments for delivering an attack 
emerged in the shape of the naval aircraft carrier and long-range bomber. 
Potential air bases from which an attack against the Canal might be launched 
came into being as a result of the growth of commercial aviation in South 
and Central America. Experience in jungle maneuvers was beginning to 
make a myth of the impenetrability of tropical forests. Finally, the Army's 
ability to move outside the Canal Zone and take defensive measures within 
the territory of the Republic of Panama was sharply curtailed by the chang- 
ing relationship between the two countries. Although sabotage remained the 
most likely danger, air strikes by either land-based or carrier-based planes 
came to be regarded as the most serious threat because of the wider holes 
in the defense against them. 

At the beginning of 1939 the bulk of the garrison defending the Canal 
was divided between two separate sectors that were about as far apart organ- 
izationally as they were geographically. The Pacific Sector had a slight pre- 
ponderance of force. Assigned to it were the 4th Coast Artillery Regiment, 
the 33d Infantry, and a battalion of the 2d Field Artillery. At the opposite 
end of the Canal, in the Atlantic Sector, were the 1st Coast Artillery Regi- 
ment and the 14th Infantry. Antiaircraft units made up part of both coast 
artillery regiments. In addition to these troops assigned to the sectors, certain 
units were directly under the commanding general of the Panama Canal 
Department. These department troops included air units — the 19th Wing 
(composite), with about 28 medium bombers, 14 light bombers, 24 pursuit 
planes, and a few trainers and utility planes — plus a regiment of combat 
engineers, together with Signal Corps, quartermaster, and ordnance units, 
and other service and administrative detachments. The total strength of 
the garrison — sector as well as department troops — came to approximately 
13,500 men. 2 To the Army garrison had been given the mission of protect- 
ing the Canal against sabotage and of defending it from positions within 
the Canal Zone. Close-in defense was thus an Army responsibility except 
for two specific tasks: that of providing an armed guard on vessels passing 

1 AG Hist Sec, Panama Canal Dept, MS, History of the Panama Canal Department, I, 39-40, 

2 Annual Report of the Secretary of War, 1939, Table C; Hist of PCD, II, 207; Hq PCD 
(Caribbean Defense Command), MS, Organization and Reorganization, p. 99; Hist Div, CDC, 
MS, The Caribbean Theater in the Defense of the Americas (hereafter cited as Hist Div, CDC, 
Hist of Caribbean Theater) OCMH, I, 66-70; USAF Hist Study 42, Air Defense of the Panama 
Canal, 1 Jan 1939-7 Dec 1941, OCMH, pp. 11-12. 



through the Canal, and that of maintaining a harbor patrol at the entrances 
to the Canal. Both of these tasks were entrusted to the Navy, along with its 
primary responsibility for offshore defense. The Army air forces in Panama 
were to be prepared to assist the Navy in its major task of detecting and 
repelling enemy forces at sea, but only so far as air bases within the Canal 
Zone would permit — and only to an extent agreed upon by the local Army 
commander. 3 At the top of the military hierarchy was the commanding gen- 
eral of the Panama Canal Department. Directly under him were the com- 
manders of the 19th Air Wing and of the two sectors, each one of which 
was independent of the other. 

The recurrent crises in Europe during 1938 made the weak spots in the 
defenses of the Canal seem glaring indeed. With respect to antiaircraft, 
coast artillery, and air forces, the situation was particularly acute. The actual 
strength of the two coast artillery regiments was inadequate for the proper 
manning of the seacoast defenses, and as a result the infantry troops had to 
be given double assignments and dual training. The existing system of fixed 
antiaircraft batteries lacked, it was believed, sufficient depth and mobility 
to offer an effective defense against high speed, high altitude bombers. The 
air force was equipped with obsolete planes. France Field had been out- 
grown for some time, and room for expansion w r as lacking. The main runway 
of Albrook Field was still under construction. 4 Moreover, it had become 
increasingly clear that by the time hostile planes came within range of the 
existing Army defenses it would be too late to prevent them from delivering 
an attack on the Canal. Effective air interception would require long-range 
patrols, radar installations, and a screen of outlying bases. Not one of these 
requirements was available. Potential bases existed in the Antilles, the island 
chain guarding the Atlantic approaches. The Pacific approaches to the Canal 
had no similar cover. 

During 1939 plans and measures for reinforcing the defenses began to 
overtake the circumstances that had set the plans on foot. In early January, 
as soon as it appeared that Congress would authorize an increase in the gar- 
rison and provide the necessary funds, the War Department moved to re- 
inforce the coast artillery and air defenses. The War Plans Division calcu- 
lated at that time that approximately 6,580 coast artillery troops, divided 
almost equally between antiaircraft and harbor defense, would become avail- 

3 Hq PCD, MS, Defense Plans, pp. 8, 35 ; Hist of PCD, II, 5. 

4 Hist of PCD, I, 60-61; Annual Report of the Secretary of War, 1938, pp. 5-6; USAF Hist 
Study 42, Air Def of the Panama Canal, pp. 11-12. 



able. This would make possible a reorganization of the coast artillery garrison 
into two antiaircraft and two harbor defense regiments, one of each type 
to be assigned to each of the two sectors. Maj. Gen. David L. Stone, in com- 
mand of the Panama Canal Department, indorsed the proposal but urged 
that no troops be sent until housing was available. 5 In the meantime his 
headquarters prepared a plan for organizing a separate coast artillery brigade 
as soon as the reinforcements arrived. As for the air defenses, the problem 
was primarily one of replacing the obsolete planes. But modern planes could 
not use the old airfields. On 17 April the main runway and radio control tower 
at Albrook Field were put in operation, and by mid-June the old, outmoded 
B-10's had been replaced by thirty new B-18 bombers. 

Early in January General Stone formally recommended extending the 
defenses of the Canal westward into the Pacific. Only three possibilities 
offered. The Galapagos Islands, belonging to Ecuador, were the most favor- 
ably placed. A group of five good-sized islands and ten small ones lying 
about 1,000 miles southwest of Balboa, the Galapagos could be developed as 
an advanced base and radar station. About 500 miles westward from Balboa 
was Cocos Island, a possession of Costa Rica. Less than half the size of the 
District of Columbia and lacking a good harbor, Cocos Island could have 
but limited utility, chiefly as an advanced station for the Aircraft Warning 
Service ( AWS) . Of even less potential usefulness was the tiny rock belong- 
ing to France and known as Clipperton Island, which jutted up out of the 
open Pacific 2,000 miles to the northwest of Panama; but the fact that it was 
a European possession made it of interest. Proposals that the United States 
acquire Cocos Island and the Galapagos group had cropped up periodically 
ever since 1917. Although not unfavorably disposed toward the idea, the 
War Department during the early 1930's refrained from urging or even 
recommending it, no doubt because the matter rested within the Navy's 
sphere of primary interest. The delivery in 1937 of the Army's first B-17's 
spurred advocates of a long-range bomber program to greater efforts toward 
enlarging the role of the Air Corps in coastal defense to an extent commen- 
surate to the range of its planes. 6 The airmen made little headway, and Army 
officers in Panama continued to chafe under the necessity of depending upon 
naval aviation for offshore reconnaissance. A survey party sent out by 

5 Memo, Lt Col Walton H. Walker for CG PCD, 5 Jan 39; Memo, Gen Stone for Col Walker, 
16 Jan 39; Memo, Col Walker for WPD, 10 Feb 39. All in WPD 4124. Rad 161, WPD to CG 
PCD, 11 Jan 39, AG 320.2 PCD (12-30-38), sec. 1. 

6 Hist of PCD, I, 59; Craven and Cate, eds., Plans and Early Operations, pp. 68-71. 



General Stone at the end of 1938, after rumors had circulated that the 
government of Ecuador was considering selling the Galapagos, found sites 
for airfields, seaplane bases, and AWS stations and reported suitable sea- 
plane anchorages and radar sites on Cocos Island. This was the basis for 
General Stone's recommendations of 5 January 1939 that steps be taken 
to acquire the islands either by purchase or by an "exclusive" lease "for the 
purpose of establishing thereon such advanced naval air bases and AWS 
stations as may be necessary." 7 He set forth his position as follows: 

In order to take full advantage of the increase in our air power and enable it to 
develop its full offensive and defensive strength, we must have outlying bases located 
at a distance from the Canal in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Such bases will 
enable our defensive air forces to engage an attacking air force before it can arrive 
within effective bombing range of the Canal, and will also serve as advance AWS 
stations and furnish the necessary warning to all components of our defense forces. . . . 8 

He was aware, General Stone continued, that his recommendations involved 

... a strategic matter for which the Navy is primarily responsible, yet it is obvious that 
the Army, which is primarily responsible for the close-in (tactical) defense of the 
Panama Canal, is vitally interested in any measure which will strengthen the defense 
of the Canal against air attack and, for this reason, I deem it incumbent upon me to 
submit this matter for the earnest consideration of higher authority. 9 

General Stone's views were strongly reinforced by the fact that two reso- 
lutions were before Congress calling for the acquisition of the islands. Both 
the War Department and the Navy began to take a more positive attitude. 
The Navy Department, although not inclined to appear as sponsor of the 
proposed measures, was willing to recommend their passage. The Army War 
Plans Division got as far as preparing a statement for the Chief of Staff 
recommending that the War Department indorse the proposals. But in the 
meantime President Roosevelt had decided that the acquisition of any ter- 
ritory belonging to the other American Republics would not be in the public 
interest, and on 2 June the War Department informed General Stone of 
the President's decision. 10 The question of whether or not to acquire the 
islands thus passed beyond the province of the War Department, but it was 
not a matter that the authorities in the Canal Zone were in haste to drop. 

7 Ltr, CG PCD to TAG, 5 Jan 39, WPD 3782-3. The italicizing is the author's. 

8 Ibid, 

9 Ibid. 

10 Memo, WPD for CofS, 13 Apr 39, AG 601. 1 (10-4-34) an d co P>S stamped Not Used, 
WPD 3782-11; Ltr, Under Secy State Sumner Welles to SW, 12 May 39; Ltr, TAG to CG PCD, 
2 Jun 39. Last two in AG 601. 1 (10-4-34). Copies of Under Secy State Welles' letter in WPD 
3977, are dated 12 March 1939. 



In a report to Washington in mid- June, General Stone referred to his letter 
of 5 January and ended with the following: 

Any plan of air defense . . . which fails to make provision for destroying the carrier 
before its bombers are launched ... is a defective plan. It is apparent therefore that, 
until our Government obtains the use of the Galapagos and Cocos Islands as advanced 
stations for both aircraft warning service stations and operating bases, the Panama Canal 
will continue to be exposed to surprise raids from carrier-based aircraft on the Pacific 
side. T1 

His suggestion that 999-year leases be negotiated for this purpose was con- 
sidered by the War Department to be "tantamount to purchase/' and there- 
fore contrary to national policy, and to be inconsistent with the joint defense 
plan drawn up by the local commanders in Panama. Operating airdromes in 
the Galapagos Islands or on Cocos Island were not essential to the accom- 
plishment of the Army's mission, the War Department now held; and as 
for the new radar equipment for which funds had been appropriated, none 
of it was to be installed in any foreign territory except the Republic of 
Panama. Since overwater search was considered a Navy function, the War 
Department decided that "provision of Army installations for that purpose 
will not be considered at this time." 12 Less than a month afterward the 
Germans invaded Poland and World War II had begun. 

In the extension of the Canal's defenses into Panamanian territory just 
as in the matter of acquiring the Galapagos Islands and Cocos Island, de- 
fense needs as viewed from Army headquarters in the Canal Zone ran into 
the complications of national policy as laid down in Washington. In both 
cases, the ends sought by General Stone were eventually achieved, but not 
by the exact course he recommended. 

By the beginning of 1939 the need of additional airfields in the vicinity 
of the Canal had centered on a privately owned field at the beach and ranch 
resort of Rio Hato, some fifty-five or sixty miles from the Canal Zone, on 
the northwestern shore of the Gulf of Panama. As early as 1932 flyers from 
the Canal Zone had discovered that the Rio Hato field offered a good oppor- 
tunity for them to put in flying time while enjoying some pleasant recreation 
too, and the place was soon leased by the Army for the nominal sum of one 
dollar per annum. 13 The increase in rental to $2,400 in 1937, and then to 

11 Ltr, CG PCD to TAG, 16 Jim 39, AG 660.2 (8-26-37), sec. 4. 

12 Memo, WPD for TAG, 28 Jul 39, WPD 3782-6; 1st Ind, TAG to Chiefs, Arms, et al. 
and CofAC, 8 Aug 39, on Ltr, CG PCD to TAG, 16 Jun 39, AG 660.2 PCD (8-26-37), sec. 4. 

13 Hist of PCD, I, 71-73 ; CDC PCD, MS, Acquisition of Land, OCMH, pp. 106^09. 



$4,800, no doubt reflected the conversion of the field to more serious pur- 
poses, so that by the fall of 1938 General Stone could write as follows: 

We see in Rio Hato all the basic requirements for operations of planes of all types 
under any conditions of weather that we may expect. Its potentiality for expansion into 
a very large field is such that 1 consider it indispensable to the contemplated Air Corps 
expansion program in this Department. 14 

General Stone urged, as he had on previous occasions, that the field be 
purchased outright and developed as an operating base. Early in January 
1939 he informed the War Department that, if the Rio Hato field were 
obtained, no other operating airfields would be needed outside the Canal 
Zone. An official visitor from the War Plans Division concurred in General 
Stone's estimate of the importance of the Rio Hato field, but the War De- 
partment took no action except to ask the general for a priority list of sites 
that might be acquired if the Air Corps augmentation program received 
Congressional approval. As was to be expected, Rio Hato headed the list, 
followed by nine other possible sites of lesser importance, 15 It was also to 
be expected that as soon as the Army became interested in using Rio Hato 
for official purposes the Panamanian Government would enter the picture. 
As long as the tactical use of the field was merely incidental, the arrange- 
ments could be made informally, directly with the owner of the property; 
but as the field became more important to the Army and the possibility of 
buying it was raised, the negotiations became a matter of public, rather than 
private, concern. 

This particular point was one on which the treaty of 1936 made impor- 
tant concessions to Panamanian sovereignty. Under the old Hay-Varilla 
Treaty of 1903 the United States had enjoyed plenary authority within the 
Canal Zone and the right to acquire, control, and use any lands outside the 
Canal Zone that might be required for the operation and protection of the 
Canal. The procedures were entirely unilateral. In the case of public lands 
the American authorities merely notified the Panamanian Government that 
the land was being taken over; in the case of privately owned lands the 
United States was given the right of eminent domain and the privilege of 
acquiring the land at pre-1903 values. The new treaty, signed on 2 March 
1936 but not yet ratified by the beginning of 1939, proposed to change the 
old relationship to one of co-operation and partnership. Both countries recog- 

14 Ltr, Gen Stone to Gen Malin Craig, CofS, 19 Oct 38, quoted in CDC PCD, Acquisition of 
Land, pp. 1 11-15. 

15 Ltr, CG PCD to WPD, 1 Feb 39, WPD 2674-22; Memo, Exec WPD for ACofS WPD, 
10 Feb 39, WPD 4124. 


nized "the maintenance, sanitation, efficient operation and effective protec- 
tion of the canal" to be a joint obligation; and if, for this common purpose, 
"some new unforeseen contingency" should make the use of additional lands 
necessary, the two countries agreed to agree on the requisite measures. In the 
economic and commercial field also, and in the matter of the Canal annuity, 
the United States deferred to the sovereign rights and material interests of 
the Republic of Panama. Consultation between the two countries, through 
the normal channels of diplomacy, was provided for on questions of general 
security. Under the old treaty, the United States had claimed the right to 
employ its armed forces anywhere within Panamanian territory at any time 
and in any way that seemed necessary. Article X of the new r treaty, which 
provided that in case of war or threat of aggression the two governments 
would take action to protect their common interests and would consult each 
other regarding any measure deemed necessary by either one but affecting 
the territory of the other, was considered by the Army as setting aside the old 
treaty prescription. Whatever might be permitted in an emergency, it was not 
at all clear that, under the new treaty, maneuvers and training exercises could 
be held outside the Canal Zone in time of peace. The Army objected to these 
various limitations on its freedom of action, especially when aviation devel- 
opments and what a predecessor of General Stone called "other possible 
long range instrumentalities of offensive warfare" were making necessary an 
outward thrust of the Canal's defenses. Reluctance on the part of the United 
States Senate to accept the limitations of the treaty was at least partly re- 
sponsible for the delay in ratifying it; and General Stone's desire to take 
advantage of the delay was chiefly responsible for the urgency with which 
he pressed the acquisition of the Rio Hato airfields. 16 

Although Secretary Cordell Hull had assured the War Department in the 
spring of 1938 that the new treaty "in no way modified" the right of the 
United States to employ its troops or acquire additional lands outside the 
Canal Zone, the War Department made no effort to test Mr. Hull's inter- 
pretation until the treaty had been formally accepted by Panama through 
an exchange of notes dated 1 February 1939. 17 On 23 February the War 
Department notified General Stone of its intention to request the State De- 
partment "to initiate action tending toward acquisition ... of lands in 

16 A good summary of the treaty is in Norman Judson Padelford, The Panama Canal in Peace 
and War (New York: The Macmillan Company ; 1942), pp. 64-81. Pertinent documents include 
Ltr, Brig Gen Lawrence Halstead to TAG, 10 Dec 35, AG 388.1 Panama (1-1-26), sec. 3; Ltr, 
Gen Stone to Gen Craig, T9 Oct 38, and Memo, WPD for CofS, 10 Jun 39, WPD 1652-31. 

17 Ltr, Secy State to SW, 11 May 39, WPD 1652-29. Padelford, Panama Canal in Peace and 
War, p. 77, gives the text of the note from the Panamanian Government. 



Republic of Panama needed for the defense of Panama Canal. These lands 
include Rio Hato and outlying emergency landing fields, stations for air- 
craft warning service, trunk roads, searchlight positions and access roads, 
Harbor Defense items and cable rights of way. . . 18 At the same time a 
request for the necessary funds was included in Air Corps estimates for 
the next fiscal year. General Stone asked for and received authority to nego- 
tiate directly with the Panamanian Government, which he found willing 
to co-operate but only on the basis of a 999-year lease, not a sale, of the land. 
Almost four months afterward, on 17 June, the War Plans Division, noting 
the request for funds and calling attention to General Stone's negotiations, 
recommended that the approval of the State Department be sought for any 
proposed lease; and the State Department, although seeing no bar to a 
999-year lease in any provision of the new treaty, believed it best to defer 
action until Congress ratified the treaty. This Congress did on 27 July, after 
appropriating $400,000 for acquiring the defense sites in Panama. 19 

Although arrangements for pushing the defenses out into Panamanian 
territory were further advanced than General Stone's proposals regarding 
the Pacific islands, nothing concrete had been accomplished in either case 
except an allocation of funds for the former. The question of acquiring 
island bases in the Pacific seemed to be definitely buried. As for the defense 
sites in the Republic of Panama the War Department was awaiting the 
signal from the State Department with desks cleared for action. 

Only a small start had been made to provide the housing for the addi- 
tional Coast Artillery troops authorized the previous January. The general 
program of expansion depended on Congressional approval in the shape of 
appropriations and, until this was forthcoming in June, when the sum of 
$50,000,000 was made available, only a limited amount of construction 
could be undertaken. 

All this time events in Europe had been rushing headlong toward their 
climax. After breaking up the Republic of Czechoslovakia and establishing a 
German protectorate over most of its former territories, after re-incorporat- 
ing Memel into the Reich and demanding the return of Danzig, after tearing 
up the naval treaty with Britain, abrogating the nonaggression pact with 
Poland, and signing a pact of peace with Russia, Hitler in the early morning 
hours of 1 September 1939 flung his armies across the Polish frontier. Bound 

18 Rad, TAG to CG PCD, 23 Feb 39, AG 660.2 PCD (9-26-37), sec. 3. 

19 Rad, CG PCD to TAG, 28 Feb 39, AG 660.2 PCD (8-26-37) sec. 3; Memo, WPD for 
CofS, 17 Jun 39; Ltr, Secy State to SW, 24 Jun 39. Last two in WPD 2674-25. 



to Poland by treaty, Britain and France mobilized, and on Sunday, 3 Septem- 
ber, both countries came to the aid of their hard-pressed ally. 

Emergency Measures, August i<)3()-]anuary 1940 

Throughout the August crisis the United States Government had care- 
fully followed the course of events in Europe; and while it cherished the 
hope that the crisis might pass, at the same time it recognized the necessity 
of preparing for the worst. On 22 August the War Department notified 
General Stone that "if war breaks out in Europe" two regiments of infantry, 
totaling 2,678 men, with full field equipment, would be sent to Panama 
"immediately." The War Department also proposed to send 898 filler re- 
placements for the antiaircraft troops, to double the pursuit plane strength, 
and to speed up the authorized construction. 20 On the next day, 23 August, 
the announcement came of the Nazi-Soviet pact. Personal appeals from 
President Roosevelt to Hitler, to the King of Italy, and to President Ignace 
Moscicki of Poland failed to halt the march of events. 

Plans for protecting the Canal against sabotage during an international 
crisis of this sort had been drawn up in Panama and given constant study 
ever since the spring of 1936. Now, steps to put them into effect were 
quickly taken. Three basic measures had been provided for: first, the instal- 
lation and operation of special equipment in the lock chambers, designed to 
detect underwater mines and bombs and to prevent damage from this cause; 
second, the restriction of commercial traffic to one side of the dual locks; and 
third, the inspection of all ships before they entered the Canal and the plac- 
ing of an armed guard on vessels while in transit through it 21 These measures 
were instituted between 26 August, when the President gave Secretary Harry 
H. Woodring the signal to go ahead, and 1 September. At first the Canal 
authorities exempted from the inspection and guard requirements all Amer- 
ican flag vessels, foreign passenger liners on regular runs and carrying more 
than twenty-five passengers, and British or French cargo ships that were 
"known to the Canal" and on a regularly scheduled voyage; but the War 
Department immediately insisted on the regulations being applied without 

20 Memo, WPD for TAG, 22 Aug 39, WPD 4191-3; Memo, CofAC for WPD, 22 Aug 39; 
Memo, WPD for CofS, 23 Aug 39. Last two in WPD 41 9 1-5. For the diplomacy of the period 
see William L. Langer and S. Everett Gleason, The Challenge to lsolation } 1937-/940 (New York: 
Harper and Brothers, 1952), pp. 185-206. 

21 Ltr, Governor Julian Larcombe Schley, Panama Canal, to SW } 14 Jul 36; Ltr, Governor 
Clarence Self Ridley, Panama Canal, to SW, 16 Aug 37; Memo, WPD for CorS, 13 Jul 38. All in 
AG 660.2 Panama Canal (7-14-36). 



distinction, without regard to the "nationality, size or character" of the vessel. 
Ships of war "of foreign powers with whom we are on diplomatically friendly 
relations" were the only exceptions the War Department recognized. 22 

The only discretion the War Department permitted was in the size of the 
armed guard; but this alone gave the Canal authorities considerable latitude 
in applying the regulations. Vessels were grouped in several categories on 
the basis of their size, nationality, and potentiality for mischief, and a cor- 
responding transit guard was provided that varied in numbers from two to 
twenty-five men. The plan had been for the Navy to furnish the men for the 
guard; but when it was put into effect the Fifteenth Naval District was so 
short of manpower that the Army had to take over this function temporarily. 
The 18th Infantry Brigade, consisting of the 5th and 13th Regiments and 
numbering 2,678 officers and enlisted men, had been earmarked for Panama 
should some emergency require that the garrison be reinforced. As soon as 
it was decided to institute transit guards, the War Plans Division asked 
General Stone whether in view of the decision he would like to have the 
brigade or any part of it sent to Panama immediately. The reply was prompt: 
"For security and guarding of canal desire 18th Brigade be sent to Canal 
Zone with full field equipment including peace allowances, motor trans- 
port and heavy tentage." 23 Preliminary steps to start the brigade on its way 
were taken at once. Sometime between the end of October and the middle 
of November the troops arrived. They were a welcome addition to the gar- 

Not all of them seem to have been required for transit guard duty. In 
February 1940 the commander of the Pacific Sector, in submitting a plan 
for reorganizing the garrison, recommended a strength of 376 for the transit 
guard. Some months later, after the guard system had been tightened, depart- 
mental headquarters figured that this duty would require the services of 
16 officers and 248 enlisted men; in June 1941 when the guard was further 
increased, 450 men were considered necessary; and later in 1941 a full bat- 
talion was employed to furnish the transit guard details, although, according 
to an official headquarters historian, "this number was in excess of the actual 
needs. . . 24 The number of men needed depended, of course, on the 

22 WPD Draft Memo, SW for President, 26 Aug 39, sub: Def of the Panama Canal Against 
Sabotage; Memo, SW for TAG, 28 Aug 39; Telg, SW to Governor Ridley, Canal Zone, 28 Aug 
39; Memo, WPD for CofS, 30 Aug 39; Telg, SW to Governor Ridley, Panama Canal, 30 Aug 39, 
All in WPD 3730-13- 

23 Rad, CG PCD to TAG, 1 Sep 39, AG 320.2 (8-19-39), sec. 3. 

24 Hq PCD, MS, Panama Mobile Force and Security Command, OCMH pt. Ill, pp. 12-13 an d 
passim, and pt. I, p. 10. 



amount of traffic, the stringency of the system, and the rate of rotation. 
In August and September 1939 an average of fifteen or sixteen vessels were 
passing through the Canal each day; but of these about 68 percent were 
vessels of American, British, French, or Dutch registry, which took a transit 
guard of only ten or fifteen men or less. 

Other reinforcements, in addition to the 18th Infantry Brigade, were 
sent off to Panama immediately. Two antiaircraft detachments, totaling 
about 30 officers and 868 enlisted men, were dispatched early in September 
in order to bring the units in Panama up to their allotted strength. At the 
same time, after hurried arrangements were made with Mexico and the 
Central American Republics, thirty new P-36 fighters were flown down to 
reinforce the air garrison. The coast artillery reinforcements, which had 
been held back pending completion of the housing program, were now sent 
forward, although the construction program had barely started. 25 

In conjunction with the antisabotage measures and the dispatch of re- 
inforcements a third step was taken to meet the emergency occasioned by 
the outbreak of the European war. This was an administrative step taken 
on 5 September when the President by virtue of his authority under the Canal 
Zone Code directed the Commanding General, Panama Canal Department, 
to assume exclusive control and jurisdiction over the Canal and all its 
adjuncts and appurtenances, including the government of the Canal Zone, 
In normal times the commanding general and the Governor shared respon- 
sibility for the safety of the Canal; but in time of war, or whenever the 
President considered war to be imminent, the intention was that the com- 
manding general would assume full responsibility. This was done in 1917, 
four days after the proclamation of war with Germany. In 1939, at the end 
of August the War Plans Division urged that the law be invoked as soon 
as the President issued a proclamation of neutrality or emergency; and only 
to this extent was there a departure from the 1917 precedent. 26 

While these emergency measures were in progress, they and defenses 
at Panama were being subjected to further continuing study. The air com- 
mander in Panama, Brig. Gen. Herbert A. Dargue, reported to General 
Arnold that he could see no sign of construction activity at either France 

23 Memo, G-3 for TAG, 26 Aug 39, sub: Movement of Reinforcements to Panama; Ltr CG 
PCD to TAG, 26 Aug 39; Memo, G-3 for G-i, G-2, G-4, and WPD, 5 Sep 39; WPD Office 
Memo for Gen Strong, 7 Sep 39, sub: Rpt ... on Air Corps Pursuit Flight ... All in WPD 41 91-3. 

20 Memo, WPD for CofS, 26 Aug 39, AG 320.2 (8-19-39), sec. 4. A copy of President 
Roosevelt's Executive order (8232, 5 September 1939) and the official notification to the Com- 
manding General, Panama Canal Department, are in the same file. See also, Padelford, Panama 
Canal in Peace and War, p. 139. 



or Albrook Fields and that he was 
"a little impatient" about it. But he 
did not want the flow of reinforce- 
ments stopped on this account. 27 
Both the Chief of Coast Artillery 
and the Commanding General, Pan- 
ama Canal Department, formally 
called attention to the inadequacy of 
the antiaircraft armament. The for- 
mer urged that an extra gun be pro- 
vided for each 3-inch battery, which 
would be an increase of twenty-five 
guns; the latter forwarded to the 
War Department, almost simulta- 
neously, a report that came to just 
about the same conclusion. The ques- 
tion of installing long-range radar 
stations, which had been under con- 
sideration since midsummer, was 
brought to a decision when the Chief 

Signal Officer and the Chief of Engineers agreed with the War Plans Division 
that two sets should be installed immediately and three others when FY 1941 
funds became available. The Federal Bureau of Investigation entered the 
picture with a memorandum for the President that offered a critical view of 
the situation in Panama, based, so it seemed to the War Department, on con- 
ditions existing before the recent emergency measures were taken. 28 One voice 
of protest — that of the governor — was raised. Although the commanding gen- 
eral, as soon as he took over the government of the Canal Zone, had seen to it 
that all the existing regulations and administrative machinery continued, the 
Governor, after two months of military control, was convinced that a return 
to something like his former position was desirable. The Governor argued 
that the Neutrality Act of 4 November 1939 and President Roosevelt's reas- 
surances that the United States did not "intend" to get involved in the war 

Early Radar Installation (SCR-271) 
in Panama. 

27 Memo, CofAC for WPD, 16 Oct 39, WPD 4191-3. 

28 Ltr, CG PCD to TAG, 24 Oct 39, sub: AA Def of the Panama Canal; Memo, CofCA for 
TAG, 13 Oct 39, sub: AA Def of the Panama Canal. Both in AG 660.2 PCD (8-26-37), sec. 1. 
Memo, WPD for CofS, 25 Oct 39, sub: AWS Project for PCD, WPD 4186; Memo, WPD for 
G-2, 22 Nov 39; Memo, CofS for Brig Gen Edwin M. Watson, 24 Nov 39. Last two in WPD 


made inapplicable the legal provision on which military control was based. In 
any event, the Governor continued, "military control" was unnecessary since 
he and his chief assistant were Army officers themselves. But the Governor's 
arguments did not move the War Department, The War Plans Division dis- 
posed of them flatly and concisely by stating that the existing system was 
"working satisfactorily" and that to change it "might have the undesirable 
effect of creating the impression that safeguarding the Panama Canal has 
become less important." 29 

Reorganization and Expansion 

The arrival of reinforcements in the fall of 1939 and the certainty that 
more were on the way permitted a reorganization of the old pyramidal com- 
mand structure. Discussion and study at General Stone's headquarters in 
September and early October revealed dissatisfaction with the two-sector 
system and produced a plan abolishing the sectors and organizing all the 
ground forces and defensive installations into a permanent mobile force, 
with a sector organization of its own. The first step was to remove the anti- 
aircraft troops from the sector commands, which was done on 16 October by 
the creation of the Panama Provisional Coast Artillery Brigade (AA). 30 
Possibly because a change of commanding generals was scheduled for the 
beginning of the year nothing further in the way of reorganization was 
attempted for the time being. 

In January 1940 General Stone completed almost three years of duty as 
Commanding General, Panama Canal Department, and was succeeded by 
Maj. Gen. Daniel Van Voorhis, who came to his new post from command 
of the Fifth Corps Area. One of the first tasks the new commanding general 
undertook was to complete the reorganization. 

The immediate impetus was a letter from the War Department instruct- 
ing the commanders in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Canal Zone to submit, for 
the consideration of the newly created Air Defense Board, a complete study 
of the problem of defense against air attack, including the role of antiair- 
craft artillery, Aircraft Warning Service, and "the proper types, numbers 
and organizations and coordination of means and agencies required." 31 The 

29 Memo, Governor Panama Canal, CofS, 9 Nov 39; Memo, WPD for CofS, 18 Nov 39; 
Ltr, CofS to Governor Panama Canal, n Dec 39. All in AG 320.2 (8-19-39), sec. 4. 

30 Hq PCD (CDC), Organization and Reorganization, p. 98; Hq PCD, Mobile Force and 
Security Comd, pt. I, pp. 5-6. 

31 Memo, WPD for TAG, 2 Jan 40, WPD 4247-1. 



case for abolishing the sector commands, forcefully presented by both Gen- 
eral Dargue and Maj. Gen. Ben Lear, commander of the Pacific Sector, and 
for immediately creating a mobile force, impressed General Van Voorhis 
and received the blessing of General Marshall. The latter, who at the time 
happened to be inspecting the defenses of the Canal, seems to have given 
his informal approval to the plan early in February, after a conference with 
General Van Voorhis on Monday, 5 February. The harbor defense units, 
which had remained under the sector commands after the creation of the 
antiaircraft brigade, were now merged with the antiaircraft units into the 
Panama Separate Coast Artillery Brigade (Provisional). The infantry and 
field artillery, with some of the Quartermaster and Signal Corps troops, were 
grouped into the Panama Mobile Force (Provisional). Command of the 
mobile force was given to General Lear, and the Coast Artillery Brigade, 
which was reported by the New York Times to be the largest and most heav- 
ily armed artillery unit in the Army, was placed under the command of Brig. 
Gen. Sanderford Jarman. These changes and the abolition of the Atlantic 
and Pacific Sectors were put into effect by General Order No. 5, issued by 
General Van Voorhis on 16 February 1940. Formal approval by the War 
Department followed, two months later. 32 General Lear's headquarters and 
the bulk of the mobile force remained on the Pacific side of the Isthmus. 
On the Atlantic side, within an area that corresponded roughly to the old 
Atlantic Sector, the mobile forces were commanded by General Lear's rep- 
resentative — Brig. Gen. Joseph M, Cummins, former commander of the 
Atlantic Sector. The new organization may well have been a more central- 
ized and functional structure than the old; that it provided a more uniform 
distribution of staff work was clear and unquestionable. 

Reinforcements had been arriving in Panama in a steady stream. At the 
end of January 1940 the strength of the garrison stood not quite at 19,500 
men; by the end of April it had risen to approximately 21,100. 33 General 
Van Voorhis was assured that his recommendations for an orderly and 
balanced augmentation would be for the most part carried out. Funds to 
complete the Aircraft Warning Service project would be obtained "at the 
earliest opportunity/' the War Department notified him. Additional anti- 
aircraft guns would be sent. A third infantry regiment was approved, as 

32 Hist of PCD, II, 141-44; Hq PCD, Panama Mobile Force and Security Commd, pt. I, pp. 
9—16; Memo, Gen Van Voorhis for TAG, 12 Feb 40, WPD 4270; Memo, [By Gen Van Voorhis] 
for Conf with CofS, Monday, 5 Feb 40, OCS 18251-26; Memo, G-3 for WPD, 28 Mar 40, 
WPD 3858-14; Memo, WPD for CofS, 17 Apr 40, sub: Panama Canal Def Project; Memo, 
WPD for TAG, 25 Apr 40, sub: Panama Canal Def Project. Last two in WPD 4270. 

33 Hist of PCD, II, 56. 



well as a mechanized reconnaissance company (minus 3 platoons) and an- 
other field artillery batallion "subject to the availability of personnel. " 34 

The new arrivals had so far outdistanced construction that a serious 
shortage of housing existed. At Albrook Field enlisted men were sleeping 
in the hangars, and at other stations the troops were quartered under canvas. 
Indecision in Washington about the type of contract delayed the arrival of 
contractors' forces until July 1940 — one year after construction funds were 
made available. Until then all the construction work was done by the troops 
themselves. Tropical rains, the continued influx of troops, and frequent 
tangles of red tape between the different branches of the garrison added to 
the difficulties. 35 The Panama experience, how plans for deferring reinforce- 
ments until housing was ready could give way under the pressure of emer- 
gency, set a pattern that was to recur again and again at the newer bases in 
the Caribbean and the North Atlantic. 

Among the legacies inherited by General Van Voorhis was the question 
of defensive positions outside the Canal Zone — particularly the Rio Hato 
airfield and the emergency landing strips that had been the subject of so 
much discussion with the Republic of Panama. In September 1939 the con- 
duct of negotiations had been taken over by the State Department in col- 
laboration with the War Department. No word of their progress was re- 
ceived by the Panama Canal Department until late in February 1940 when 
a draft of the proposed form of lease was sent to General Van Voorhis who 
objected to the article defining American jurisdiction within the leased areas. 36 
The Rio Hato field had been put to use constantly under the terms of the 
agreement made with the owner of the place. In April 1940 General Van 
Voorhis designated the area as a "Department Training Center" over the 
objections of General Dargue who wished to develop Rio Hato as a subpost 
of Albrook Field, under control of the 19th Wing:' 17 

Midsummer of 1940 brought to bud a project that had existed as an idea 
for decades, and one which, in 1940, had been halfway to completion for at 
least ten years. Even before the Canal was officially opened, some interest 
had been shown in a transisthmian highway as an adjunct to military com- 
munications across the Canal Zone. No active steps in furtherance of the idea 
were taken until 1928 when work on the Madden Dam was started. Then, in 
order to give access to the dam site on the Chagres River, a road was built 

34 Memo, WPD for TAG, 25 Apr 40, WPD 4270. 

35 Hist of PCD, II, 35, 51, 53-55. 

3Ci Pers Ltr, Gen Van Voorhis to Gen Marshall, 12 Nov 40, WPD 2674-30. 
37 USAF Hist Study 42, Def of the Panama Canal, pp. 75-81. 



that connected with the highway system of the Canal Zone. Thus a through 
road from Balboa halfway across the Isthmus was provided. The Madden 
Dam road was so constructed as to be suitable for inclusion in a transisthmian 
highway, but further action on closing the 24-mile gap between the dam and 
Colon was deferred by questions of jurisdiction, cost, and utility. 38 From time 
to time during the early thirties, the commanding generals of the Panama 
Canal Department urged the completion of the highway. For purposes of 
defense they preferred a route either within the Canal Zone or under military 
control, but the highway convention which formed part of the Treaty of 
1936 specified a road from Madden Dam through Panamanian territory to 
the Canal Zone boundary at Cativa, near Colon. In July 1940, a year after 
the convention went into effect, the G-4 Division and the War Plans Divi- 
sion of the General Staff were giving serious study to the question. Although 
the Chief of Engineers likewise objected to building the highway outside the 
Canal Zone, the consensus of the War Department was that work should 
get under way immediately, over the route outlined by the convention, and 
that the entire expense should be borne by the United States. The President 
gave his approval on 15 August; the Budget Bureau on 4 September allocated 
$4,000,000 from the President's Emergency Fund; the Panamanian Ambas- 
sador approved the arrangements on 6 September ; and in October the actual 
construction began, under the supervision of the United States Public Roads 
Administration. It was hoped that a 20-foot wide, concrete highway would 
be completed by September 1941. 39 Not long after construction of the high- 
way was started, negotiations with the Panamanian Government were entered 
into for the purpose of acquiring a right of way for an access road from 
Panama City to the new searchlight and antiaircraft positions obtained 
outside the Canal Zone, between Panama City and Madden Lake. The War 
Department soon decided that this road, known as the P-8 road, would serve 
better than the existing Canal Zone highways as a link in the transisthmian 
highway. If the P-8 road were extended to Madden Dam, transisthmian 
traffic could be diverted away from the vicinity of the canal and the security 
problem thereby lightened. The additional funds required for building the 
P-8 road according to the specifications of the transisthmian highway were 
obtained in the spring of 1941, and at the same time plans for building a 

38 PCD, MS, The Boyd-Roosevelt Highway and the Inter- American Highway, OCMH, pp. 1-8. 

39 Ibid. pp. 9-11; 1st Ind. CofEngrs to G-4. 19 Jul 40, on Ltr, G-4 to CofEngrs, n.d.; Ltr, 
Secy State to SW, 24 Aug 40. Last two in AG 388.1 Panama (1-1-26), sec. 2-A (1). Memo, 
G-4 for CofS, 22 Jul 40, and related corresp, WPD 446-61. 



bypass around Madden Dam were adopted. Construction of the expanded 
P~8 project was transferred from the Army Engineers to the Public Roads 
Administration in September 1941. 40 

Meanwhile, the scarcity of labor and delays in obtaining delivery of 
materials had slowed down construction of the Madden Dam-Colon high- 
way. After the United States was thrust into the war, Army Engineers and 
their equipment joined the contractor's forces in opening up the last section 
of the road. On 22 April 1942 a battalion of field artillery with one hundred 
vehicles traveled the road from ocean to ocean, although it was not com- 
pletely paved. By the end of May the paving was finished and an all-weather 
transisthmian highway was at last a reality, but traffic was restricted to mili- 
tary and other official vehicles until the P-8 road and the Madden Dam bypass 
were completed in April 1943. 41 

The year 1940 also saw the beginning of another project, which, like the 
transisthmian highway, had been "in the cards" for some time past. Concern 
over the possibility that the Canal might be put out of operation by sabotage 
or aerial attack against the lock system had on various occasions given rise 
to proposals to construct another canal either in Nicaragua or across the 
Isthmus of Tehuantepec, to convert the Panama Canal into a sea-level water- 
way, or to build an additional set of locks. Of these several proposals, the 
War Department favored the third on grounds that it would be the quickest 
and least expensive, and that in any case it would be a prerequisite for build- 
ing a sea-level canal. Indorsed by the Governor of the Panama Canal, by 
the Secretary of War, and by the President, the project received Congres- 
sional approval on 11 August 1939; but funds to begin the work were not 
forthcoming until the following spring. Congress, seeing that at least six 
years would be required for the project, was not to be hurried, and there 
were those in the House of Representatives who believed that the$277,ooo,ooo 
which the project would cost could be spent to better advantage for munitions 
and materiel. Finally on 30 May 1940 the House voted to accept a Senate 
amendment to the War Department Civil Functions Bill (approved 24 June 
1940) which provided for an initial appropriation of $15,000,000 and 
authorized the letting of construction contracts to an amount not exceeding 
$99,000,000. Work was begun on 1 July 1940, when the dredge Cascades 

40 Ltr, SW to Secy State, 23 Dec 40; Memo, G-4 for CofS, 28 'Jan 41; Ltr, CG PCD to TAG, 
5 Apr 41; Ltr, Administrator Federal Works Administration to SW, 3 Sep 41. All in AG 388.1 
Panama (1-1-26), sec. 2-A (1). Ltr, SW to Administrator FWA, 5 Aug 41, OCS 16054-65. 

41 PCD, Boyd -Roosevelt Highway and Inter-American Highway, pp. 16-18, 21-22. 



started excavating at the Pacific end of the channel leading to the New 
Miraflores lock site* 2 

Construction and planning were placed in the hands of the Canal ad- 
ministration, not of the Army, although the War Department controlled the 
purse strings. The plans called for a series of single locks paralleling, but 
at some distance from, the existing double chambers. The new locks were 
to be two hundred feet longer and thirty feet wider than the old, in order 
to accommodate the 58,000-ton Montana-class battleships that the Navy 
placed on order in September 1940. This feature soon began to override the 
security consideration as the principal reason for the project. 

The entry of the United States into the war brought into question the 
future of the third locks project; the Navy's interest in it gave it high prior- 
ity. On 23 December 1941 the Governor of the Panama Canal reported by 
letter to the Secretary of War that the schedule, which called for completing 
the project by 30 June 1946, could be met only by assigning high priority to, 
and by vigorously prosecuting, the construction. Since the first of the new 
super-battleships was scheduled to be completed late in 1945, it would appear 
essential, continued the governor, that the locks program be completed as 
soon as possible. 43 Discussing the question at a War Council meeting on 
5 January 1942, Maj. Gen. Richard C. Moore, Deputy Chief of Staff, took 
a somewhat different view. "The only necessity for this lock [sic]," the 
minutes read, "is to permit larger battleships, now under construction, to 
pass through the canal. General Moore felt that there was some question 
as to whether or not, with shipping and material so short at this time, the 
construction of this lock should have such a high priority/' 4 * Since the matter 
was of primary interest to the Navy, the War Department accepted the 
opinion of the Chief of Naval Operations, who recommended "that every 
effort be made" to complete the project "at the earliest date practicable, and 
not later than Jan 1, 1946. " 45 The Army and Navy Munitions Board agreed 
to assign the priorities necessary for completing the work on the schedule the 
Navy desired, and the governor of the Canal was instructed to push con- 

42 Ltr, President to Representative Adolph Joachim Sabath, 19 Jun 39; Ltr, SW to President, 
19 Jun 39; Telg, Stephen T. Early to President, 28 Feb 40; Telg, President to Representative 
Sam Rayburn, 28 Feb 40. All in Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. New York Times, May 31, 1940, 
p. 13; Annual Report of the Governor of the Panama Canal, 1940, pp. 78-79. 

43 Ltr, Governor Glen E. Edgerton to SW, 23 Dec 41, AG 821. 1 Panama Canal (1-20-39). 

44 Min, War Council Mtg, 5 Jan 42, SW Conf, binder 2. 

45 Memo, CNO for CofS, 14 Jan 42, AG 821.1 Panama Canal (1-20-39); see a ^ so > Memo, 
WPD for CofS, 1 Jan 42 ; Memo, CofS for CNO. Last two in OCS 21260-3. 



struction as rapidly as he could. 46 Four months later there was a radical 
change of plan. 

As far as the defense of the canal was concerned, Lt. Gen. Frank M. 
Andrews, Commanding General, Caribbean Defense Command, considered 
the third locks project a hindrance rather than a help. "The greatest danger 
to the Canal today/' he wrote in May 1942, <( is an air raid which would 
damage the lake level gates to the extent that would result in the loss of 
water in Gatun Lake. . . . The construction of a third set of lake level locks 
would present to the enemy an additional means of accomplishing its ob- 
jective and would consequently render the local defense problem more 
complex." 47 Therefore, when the Navy in the spring of 1942 indefinitely 
postponed the battleship construction program, which had become the prin- 
cipal reason for the additional locks, General Andrews recommended that 
the locks project be deferred also. Both the War Department and the Navy 
concurred in General Andrews' recommendation, and, having received the 
approval of the President, Secretary Stimson on 23 May 1942 directed the 
Governor of the Canal to modify the program drastically. Except for some 
of the dredging and excavating work that had already been started and the 
Miraflores bridge construction, all construction work was halted. During 
the following months, contracts were renegotiated and canceled, and a large 
amount of equipment and material was diverted to more immediate war 
needs. 48 

The labor demand created by the various construction projects consid- 
erably overtaxed the local supply and made it necessary to import workers 
from neighboring countries and from the West Indies. Surveys made during 
the winter 1939-40 disclosed that the local labor supply was "practically 
exhausted* ' and that about 12,000 workers would have to be recruited out- 
side the Republic of Panama if the requirements anticipated for midsummer 
of 1940 were to be met. Nevertheless, the Panamanian Government was 
loath to permit a widespread importation of foreign laborers, except from 
Spain or Puerto Rico, neither of which was considered a suitable source by 
the Canal administration and Army authorities. Early in 1940 the Panaman- 
ian Government agreed to the entry of one shipload of workers from Jamaica, 
where a labor recruiting office had been opened in February. President 

40 Ltr, SW to Governor Panama Canal, 22 Jan 42, OCS 21260-3. 

47 Memo, CG CDC for CofS, 18 May 42, WDCSA 42-43 CDC. 

48 Memo, CofS and COMINCH for President, 21 May 42; Ltr, SW to President, 21 May 42, 
with undated indorsement by the President. Both in AG 821. 1 Panama Canal (5-21-42). Annual 
Report of the Governor of the Panama Canal, 1942, p. 57, I 943> P- 49> !944, P- 48; see also, 
Memo, CG CDC for CofS, 18 May 42. 



Roosevelt, who had been anxious to have the wishes of the Panamanian 
Government carefully followed, gave his approval on 19 April to the im- 
portation of 600 Jamaicans to meet immediate requirements. At the same 
time he instructed the War Department that future importations should be 
made in accordance with the racial requirements desired by the Panamanian 
Government and that an attempt be made to fill needs by recruiting workers 
in Spain, Puerto Rico, and Colombia. By 30 June 1940 about 150 Jamaican 
workers had been brought into the Canal Zone. During the next twelve 
months employment recruiting offices were opened in Costa Rica and Co- 
lombia and from these sources, as well as Jamaica, 4,278 workmen were 
recruited. The peak was reached during the spring of 1942. On 30 June 
1942 the Governor of the Canal reported that in the preceding twelve months 
11,331 workmen had been brought into the Canal Zone, half of them from 
El Salvador. 49 By this time, in June 1942, the total of unskilled and semi- 
skilled workmen, the so-called "Silver" employees, numbered 65,786. Al- 
though the workmen recruited on contract in neighboring countries were 
thus only a small percentage of the total employed, without them the labor 
situation would have been most critical. As it was, labor always had to be 
carefully allocated and some projects, the transisthmian highway for example, 
occasionally felt the pinch. 50 

The Puerto Rican Outpost, 1939-1940 

The aviation developments of the 1930*5 that produced the long-range 
bomber and which were primarily responsible for the new theories of de- 
fense in Panama were the principal factor in the establishment of a major 
Army base in Puerto Rico. First developed as an independent outpost of the 
Panama defenses, Puerto Rico became one of the strongpoints around the 
Caribbean perimeter. Prior to 1939 the Navy, whose job it was to guard the 
gaps in the Antilles screen, had only the base at Guantanamo Bay, a radio 
station at San Juan, Puerto Rico, and a small Marine Corps airfield on St. 
Thomas in the Virgin Islands. During 1938 the Army began to show glim- 
mers of interest in Puerto Rico. The commanding general of the Second 
Corps Area, to which the island was attached for administrative purposes, 

49 From the inception of the program in 1940 to September 1943, when it was discontinued, 
a total of 19,675 contract workers were brought to the Isthmus. Over 10,000 of them came from 
El Salvador. By 30 June 1944 all but 3,210 of the total number had been repatriated. Annual 
Report of the Governor of the Panama Canal, 1944, p. 74. 

50 Annual Reports of the Governor of the Panama Canal, 1941, 1942, 1943; Caribbean AG 
Hist Br, MS, Civilian Personnel, ch. VIII. 



proposed in July 1938 that a Puerto Rican defense force be organized: 
"Keeping the enemy out of Caribbean waters is essentially a Navy problem," 
he wrote, "but, if need be, the Army can lend substantial support to the Navy 
through the use of aircraft based on Puerto Rico, when and if more impor- 
tant missions do not demand their use elsewhere at the time. A logical so- 
lution of the problem," he continued, ,r is this: construct a suitable air base 
and landing fields in Puerto Rico, but keep the Air Corps garrison to the 
minimum required for maintenance; . . 51 As part of the evolution of hem- 
isphere defense in October and November 1938 the Joint Planning Com- 
mittee undertook a study of this and similar proposals, which by the follow- 
ing February had progressed to the point where the War Plans Division 
thought an independent headquarters in Puerto Rico was necessary. It rec- 
ommended, therefore, that Puerto Rico be taken out of the jurisdiction of the 
Second Corps Area and be made a separate overseas department and that a 
general officer with a small staff be assigned to command the department 
and to develop a defense project and plan. The Chief of Staff approved the 
recommendation of the War Plans Division on 10 February 19 39. 52 At this 
time the only troops on the island were two battalions of the 65th Infantry, 
a local Puerto Rican unit. 

During the first half of 1939, five different surveys were made of pos- 
sible airfield sites. Point Borinquen, at the extreme northwest corner of the 
island, was the choice of three of the survey parties and was approved by the 
Chief of Staff, General Malin Craig, on 22 June. Two other possible sites, 
recommended by a party headed by General Marshall, then Deputy Chief of 
Staff, were considered and rejected principally on engineering grounds. 53 At 
the same time General Craig forwarded the Joint Board's recommendations 
to the Secretary of War for his approval. These recommendations, fruit of 
the joint planning studies made during the spring, defined Puerto Rico's 
role as that of an outlying base for supporting the naval forces whose task 
it was to control the Caribbean Sea. The Army mission recommended by the 
Joint Board was as follows: 

To hold Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands against attacks by land, sea and air 
forces, and against hostile sympathizers; to install and operate required Army base 
facilities; to support the naval forces in controlling the Caribbean Sea and adjacent 
waters; and to support operations against shore objectives. 54 

51 Ltr, CG Second Corps Area to TAG, 28 Jul 38, AG 320.2 (7-28-38). 

52 Memo, Col Clark for Gen Strong, ACofS WPD, 4 Feb 39, Memo, WPD for CofS, 7 Feb 39. 
Both in WPD4141. 

53 Memo, WPD for CofS, 20 Jun 39, WPD 4079-12. 

54 Memo, JB for SW, 15 Jun 39, WPD 4159. 



The principal policy recommendation of the board, namely, that a separate 
local command be established over the Puerto Rico- Virgin Islands area, had 
been adopted by the War Department on 5 May, when the Puerto Rican 
Department was established effective 1 July 1939. 55 Brig. Gen. Edmund L. 
Daley was appointed commanding general with headquarters at San Juan. 
Although there had been some talk at one time of placing Puerto Rico under 
the Panama Canal Department, this idea had long since gone by the board 
and the chain of command was run direct from the Chief of Staff. 

In mid- August General Daley and his Staff were working on the prepara- 
tions that were preliminary to drawing up the defense project and the coastal 
frontier and operations plans. A thorough reconnaissance of Puerto Rico 
and the Virgin Islands had been made. An acquaintance with all the military 
forces that might become available — the 65th Infantry, the National Guard, 
and Reserve groups — had been forged. Counterespionage measures had 
been organized, and a revision of the internal security plan was undertaken. 56 
In the course of planning, General Marshall raised the question whether the 
National Guard and Regular Army units could not be mixed. His idea was 
to use Regular Army troops for the headquarters of the company or battalion 
and National Guardsmen for the rest of the unit. The chief of the War 
Plans Division thought this was more of a mixture than was necessary but 
that it might be possible to use National Guard battalions to fill out Regular 
Army regiments. Then the ramification whether to use Puerto Rican soldiers 
in the same unit with continental Americans developed. 57 Before any policy 
on this question was established and while the defenses were still being 
plotted, the European crisis made emergency measures necessary. 

The War Department decided to send immediate reinforcements to 
Puerto Rico. Toward the end of August General Daley was notified that if 
war broke out in Europe he would be sent one antiaircraft battalion, one 
coast artillery battalion (155-mm. gun), and a company of engineers, total- 
ing about 1,050 officers and men. As the fighting in Europe developed, the 
strength of the proposed reinforcement was increased. On 3 September a 
battalion of field artillery was added to the list, and a few days later an ad- 
ditional antiaircraft battery and service units were added. This brought the 

55 WDGO 2, 5 May 39. 

56 Ltr, Gen Daley to Gen Strong, WPD, 17 Aug 39, WPD 4159-1- 

57 Memo, Gen Marshall, Acting CofS, for WPD, 27 Jun 39; Ltr, Gen Strong, WPD, to Gen 
Daley, 1 Jul 39. Both in WPD 4159-1. Memo, WPD for CG PRD, 3 Aug 39, with Incl; Memo, 
G-i for WPD, 8 Aug 39; Memo, WPD for G-i, 11 Aug 39. Last three in WPD 4141-7 and 
WPD 4141-8. 



promised reinforcements to more than 1,500 officers and men. 58 The first ar- 
rivals, Battery D of the 69th Coast Artillery (AA), landed at San Juan on 
25 September. By the end of October all the troops except the company of 
engineers had arrived. Their arrival late in November brought the total 
strength of the Puerto Rico garrison, including the 65th Infantry, to just 
under 3,000 officers and men. 

Highest priority had been given by the War Department to the prepara- 
tion of an emergency airfield suitable for B-17 operations. On 6 September, 
Puerto Rico Air Base No. 1 was established in a cow pasture near Point 
Borinquen. Work on a temporary landing strip was immediately started. 59 
In November, the 28 officers and 228 enlisted men of the 27th Reconnais- 
sance Squadron arrived at the air base, and as soon as the runway was com- 
pleted the planes of the squadron — nine B-18 bombers — were flown in. This 
was on 5 December 1939. 60 With the arrival of the planes the emergency 
measures were completed, and the Puerto Rican Department could look for- 
ward to a more orderly development. 

These first steps had been directed primarily toward eliminating the 
source of weakness to the Panama Canal defenses that the Antilles seemed 
to present, namely, the danger that an enemy might take possession of one 
of the islands and use it as a base from which to launch an attack on the 
Canal, the continental United States, or the sea lanes. For this reason, to deny 
Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to the enemy was, according to the War 
Plans Division, "of paramount importance." On the other hand, the Antilles 
were also a source of strength. In the first place, they limited the sea ap- 
proaches of the Canal to a few narrow passages, "thereby simplifying the 
problem of the location and attack of hostile vessels," and in the second 
place, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands afforded potential bases from 
which long-range air operations could be conducted either to exert control 
over the Caribbean Sea, in support of the fleet, or to provide air protection 
to the land areas bordering the Caribbean, in direct defense of the Canal. 61 
But it was not until well into 1940 that the concept of a Caribbean theater 

58 Rad 5, TAG to CG PRD, 22 Aug 39; Memo, CofS for SW, 3 Sep 39; Memo, G-3 for G-i, 
G-2> G-4, and WPD, 5 Sep 39. All in WPD 4191-4- See also, CDC, MS, A Preliminary Study 
of Garrisons of the Puerto Rican Department, pt. I, p, 12. 

59 Rad, CG PRD to TAG, 7 Sep 39; Memo, WPD for G-4, 22 Aug 39. Both in AG 480.82 
Puerto Rico (3-3-39). Memo, WPD for TAG, 22 Aug 39, WPD 4191-4. 

60 CDC, Preliminary Study of Garrisons of the PRD, pt. I, p. 14; Ltr, Hq PRD to TAG, 21 Dec 
39, AG 580.82 Puerto Rico (3-3-39). 

61 Memo, WPD for TAG, 24 Oct 39, WPD 3793"79; Statement of WPD, Reference to 
Deficiency Estimates FY 1940 for Defense Project, Puerto Rico, n.d. ,WPD 4159-5. 



even began to take shape. The limits of the Puerto Rican Department had 
been officially denned as "the Island of Puerto Rico, including all keys and 
islands adjacent thereto, and all islands belonging to the United States with- 
in the Virgin Island group/' 62 The Joint Board, however, in its recommen- 
dations earlier in 1939 had delineated , a somewhat larger area of responsi- 
bility — a rectangle bounded north and south by the 17th and 20th parallels, 
on the east by a line just off Cape Engano, the easternmost tip of the Domin- 
ican Republic, and on the west by the 63d meridian. This was probably the 
broadest expanse within which the defenses established in Puerto Rico in 
1939 could be used effectively. Nevertheless, by ensuring against the estab- 
lishment of an enemy foothold in this area, the defenses of Puerto Rico were 
indirectly a protection to the Panama Canal. 

During the first six months of 1940 the build-up in Puerto Rico proceed- 
ed at a somewhat slower pace than that in Panama. In this period the Puerto 
Rico garrison grew from 2,980 to 3,281 officers and men, an increase of 10 
percent, while the garrison in Panama rose from about 19,400 to 22,375, an 
increase of about 15 percent. 63 The explanation was undoubtedly in the fact 
that when plans for building up the Puerto Rican defenses were put in mo- 
tion in the preceding year the process had to be started from scratch, and it 
was a process that always gathered momentum very slowly. In the second 
place, the War Department was deliberately keeping the air garrison at a low 
level primarily because of the rapidity with which it believed reinforcements 
could be sent from the United States. General Arnold cited this same policy 
in disapproving a request from the Panama Canal Department for additional 
transport and reconnaissance planes. "The principle that all aircraft neces- 
sary for the defense of the Panama Canal must be available in the immediate 
area of the Canal Zone at all times/' he wrote . . is in direct opposition 
to the approved Air Board Report, which adheres to the principle that the 
aviation complement of overseas garrisons should be held to the minimum 
required before reinforcement by air can arrive . . . General Arnold then 
continued, "from a realistic viewpoint it seems inconceivable that an air at- 
tack on the Panama Canal of such proportions as to be beyond defensive 
capabilities of the normal garrison could be launched without the forty- 
eight hours warning required to permit reinforcement by air." 64 

62 Par 2-c, AR 170-10 (102), 10 Oct 39. 

63 Monthly strength returns of the Panama garrison are given in History of the Panama Canal 
Department, II, 56; figures for Puerto Rico are taken from Caribbean Defense Command, Pre- 
liminary Study of Garrisons of the Puerto Rican Department pt. I, p. 20. 

64 Memo, CofAC for WPD, 5 Mar 40, AG 580 (12-14-39). 



The Alert of ]une 1940 

Then the war in Europe erupted into a blitzkrieg. Turning against the 
neighboring neutrals, the German armies outflanked the major French and 
British defenses. By mid-June practically all of western Europe was in the 
clutches of Hitler. On 17 June General Marshall ordered the Panama Canal 
Department, the Hawaiian Department, and the west coast to alert them- 
selves against a surprise attack. 05 The directive sent to General Van Voorhis 
required him to take "every possible precaution" against any sort of action, 
"naval, air or sabotage," aimed at putting the Canal out of commission and 
it specified that the "air component and antiaircraft forces must be in state 
of preparedness for action at any hour." 66 General Herron deployed his en- 
tire antiaircraft and security forces into defensive positions, with live ammu- 
nition, and made arrangements with the local naval commander for a com- 
plete air patrol, which the Navy immediately put into operation. But neither 
the official histories of the Panama Canal Department nor the more likely 
files of the War Department reveal specifically what measures General Van 
Voorhis took in Panama. 

Looking backward and in the glare of the Pearl Harbor attack a number 
of points seem to stand out conspicuously: First, the alert in Panama dwin- 
dled off into controversy on the subject of "unity of command"; second, 
there was no standard measure, no precise definition, of what constituted an 
alert or the synonymous phrase "preparedness for action"; and third, a 
follow-up message from General Marshall, which mentioned only the "pos- 
sibility of attempt at sabotage," by this less inclusive phraseology could have 
limited the scope of the War Plans Division's original directive without in- 
tending to do so. Since it is easier to look back than to see ahead in time, 
only the first of these — the command issue — was recognized as a matter that 
required attention. 67 

Not long after the alert of June 1940 the whole complexion of the Ca- 
nal's defenses changed as a result of Britain's offer of base sites in Bermuda, 
Newfoundland, and the West Indies. With the acquisition of bases in Ja- 
maica, Antigua, St. Lucia, Trinidad, and British Guiana, the possibility of 
making the Caribbean a mare clausum presented itself. 

05 See above, lp- t«iH.l 

00 Memo, WPD for TAG, 17 Jun 40, WPD 4326. 

G7 The Panama alert itself is dealt with as thoroughly as the records permit in Watson, Prewar 
Plans and Preparations, pages 108, 460-61. 


Out From the Canal Zone 

The fall of France and the subsequent siege of Britain created a situation 
that was in effect the one for which the newest of the American strategic 
plans had been designed. Based on the assumption of a complete German 
victory in Europe, which would burden the United States with most of the 
weight of defending the Western Hemisphere, this new plan — the Rainbow 
4 plan — provided for taking into protective custody the Old World posses- 
sions in the New World on the ground that Hitler would otherwise grab 
them up as spoils of war. 1 The plan contemplated the organizing of a Carib- 
bean theater of operations as a major measure of defense, one that would in 
fact serve the dual purpose of furthering the southerly orientation of Rain- 
bow 4 and of protecting the Atlantic approaches to the Panama Canal. 
While subsidiary Rainbow 4 plans were being laid, the President and his 
advisers were arranging the details of the destroyer-base exchange with the 
British Government. As soon as the exchange took place a survey of the pro- 
spective base sites in the Caribbean area — British Guiana on the southern 
periphery, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Antigua, and Jamaica — was undertaken by 
an Army-Navy board and preparations for developing the bases were begun. 

Another important element in the making of a Caribbean theater was the 
precarious position of the French and Dutch colonies. Immediately upon the 
invasion of the Low Countries in early May 1940, British troops landed in 
Curasao and a French unit went to Aruba for the purpose of guarding the 
large and valuable oil refineries there. The Dutch Government acquiesced, 
even though reluctantly, and the United States protested, for fear of a Jap- 
anese reaction on the other side of the world. When France fell, the troops 
on Aruba were brought back to Martinique, where they joined the forces 
under the command of Admiral Georges Robert, the French High Commis- 
sioner. A British guard replaced them. Meanwhile, Admiral Robert had af- 
firmed his allegiance to the Vichy regime, had become custodian of about 
$250,000,000 in gold that had been sent from France before the collapse, 

1 Matlofi and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941-42, pp. 12-15; Conn and Fairchild, Framework 
of Hemisphere Defense, ch. II. 



and had gathered together at Martinique a small force of naval vessels, in- 
cluding the aircraft carrier Beam with 106 American-built planes on board. 
The dangers in the situation were apparent and were not greatly eased by the 
presence of a British naval force in West Indian waters. To keep watch over 
the state of affairs the Navy Department based a destroyer squadron and 
twelve PBY'S (twin-engine patrol bombers) at San Juan. 2 

Organizing the Caribbean Theater 

When plans for developing the newly acquired Caribbean bases were 
drawn up, the need arose of creating a new command structure since only 
one of the new base sites, Jamaica, was within the limits of an existing com- 
mand. Also, according to General Arnold, some arrangement under which 
all Army air units in the Caribbean would be under a single command was 
necessary, while at the same time General Marshall raised the question of 
"unity of command" over all forces — Army and Navy — in the area. A staff 
study that was started through the mill in October or November 1940 be- 
came, in December, a recommendation by the War Plans Division that a 
theater command be established over all the Army forces in the Panama Ca- 
nal Department, the Puerto Rican Department, and the base sites leased 
from the British. The War Plans Division suggested that the various local 
commands be organized into three groups as follows: one, the Puerto Rican 
Department with the projected bases in Antigua, St. Lucia, and the Bahama 
Islands; two, the Panama Canal Department and Jamaica; and three, Trin- 
idad and British Guiana. 3 Perhaps more important than these intrinsic ele- 
ments in producing a new command organization in the Caribbean was the 
fact that the War Department at the same time was considering organizing 
the defenses of the continental United States into four theaters, or defense 
commands. 4 

On 9 January 1941, three weeks after the War Plans Division had sub- 
mitted its recommendations to the Chief of Staff, the War Department noti- 
fied General Van Voorhis that a Caribbean defense command had been 

2 Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, pp. 689-91 ; Cordell Hull, The Memoirs of 
Cordell Hull, 2 vols. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1948), I, 814-16; Morison, Battle 
of the Atlantic, pp. 30-33. 

3 Memo, for file, Col Anderson, WPD, 13 Nov 40, WPD 2917-27; Memo, CofAC for CofS, 
20 Nov 40, AG 320.2 (1-8-41); Hist Sec, CDC, MS, Army and Navy Boundaries of the 
Caribbean Defense Command, OCMH, pp. 7-8; Hist Div, CDC, Hist of Caribbean Theater, 
I, 158-60. 

4 See above, |pp. 2 3-2 4. | 


authorized and that he was to command it in addition to his other duties. On 
10 February the Caribbean Defense Command was officially activated; ten 
days later General Van Voorhis assumed command; and on 29 May the 
organization was completed. 5 

The structure was not built without disagreement. The controversial 
questions were principally the co-ordination of operations with the Navy, 
the precise grouping of local commands, and the organization of a Caribbean 
air force. Although official policy held that "operations of Army and Navy 
forces will normally be coordinated by mutual cooperation/' it was the stan- 
dard and accepted Army doctrine that only unity of command would provide 
the "unity of effort which is essential to the decisive application of the full 
combat power of the available forces." 6 The contretemps that had occurred 
at the time of the June 1940 alert, when by error the Panama Canal Depart- 
ment sent a "directive" to the Fifteenth Naval District, demonstrated what 
ought not to happen. It must have immeasurably strengthened General Mar- 
shall's conviction that unity of command was required without further de- 
lay, but General Van Voorhis, perhaps because of his close personal relations 
with the local naval commander, preferred the old official policy of mutual 
co-operation. "A gradual approach along cooperative lines/* he wrote to 
General Marshall, "will result in joint effort without raising the question of 
command. Personally I feel that the question of coordinating all activities 
under a single head will have to be determined," he concluded, "when the 
emergency arises." 7 He had raised the question in June, when, during what 
appeared to be an emergency, he thought that the means for carrying out his 
mission were lacking and could be most easily provided by the Navy. Every 
time the same issue was raised elsewhere — in Bermuda, Newfoundland, 
Alaska, and Iceland — the circumstances were the same: one commander was 
looking with longing eyes at the means under the control of another. Since the 
question was essentially one of policy, discussion of it most of the time took 
place beyond the range of the local commanders. No solution was reached in 
Washington until the Pearl Harbor attack, when unity of command was es- 
tablished at Panama and Hawaii by fiat. The problem then was transferred 
to the operating levels. 

The question of how to group the local area commands within a Carib- 

5 Hist Sec, CDC, MS, Caribbean Defense Command, Organization, Development and Re- 
organization, OCMH, pp. 1-4. 

6 For the one quotation see Joint Action, ch. II, par. 9, and for the other, FM 100-5, par. 
114, 22 May 41. 

7 Ltr, Gen Van Voorhis to Gen Marshal], 10 Jan 41, AG 320.2 (1-8-41). 



bean theater was at the very beginning a matter of difference between Gen- 
eral Van Voorhis on the one hand and the War Plans Division and the 
commanding general of the Puerto Rican Department on the other. It was 
more open to compromise, however, than the issue of unity of command. In 
notifying General Van Voorhis on 9 January that the Caribbean Defense 
Command was authorized, the War Department directed him to recommend 
an appropriate organization. His views on this subject differed from those 
of the War Plans Division. Instead of placing Antigua and St. Lucia with 
the Puerto Rican Department and Jamaica with the Panama Canal Depart- 
ment, General Van Voorhis recommended that Jamaica be grouped with 
Puerto Rico, to make for easier administration, and that Antigua and St. 
Lucia be grouped with Trinidad, which would become a territorial depart- 
ment. 8 The commanding general of the Puerto Rican Departmnt, Maj. 
Gen. James L. Collins, objected to this grouping on the score that the 
Anegada Passage, between the Virgin Islands and the Leewards, could not 
be effectively closed unless the Puerto Rican defenses extended beyond it. 
He also believed it more desirable to have Antigua and St. Lucia supplied 
from Puerto Rico. A compromise was adopted. On 3 May the War Depart- 
ment notified General Van Voorhis that after considering the matter it had 
approved the new scheme of organization. {Chart 1) On 29 May 1941, Gen- 
eral Van Voorhis organized the Caribbean Defense Command in accordance 
with the directive of the War Department. 9 

The same problem that had faced the Panama Canal Department now 
confronted the larger theater. Whether the tactical defenses should be 
organized along lines similar to those of the administrative organization 
and assigned to the sectors or be placed in a theater-wide functional group- 
ing under a single commander was the question. The specific issue concerned 
the air units. On opposite sides of the question were ranged General Van 
Voorhis and the commander of his air forces, Maj. Gen. Frank M. Andrews. 

Based on enthusiastic reports of British air defense brought back by 
General Chaney and other American observers, a theater-type organization 
of air defense was set up in the continental United States in the early spring 
of 1 941. To such builders of air power as General Andrews this seemed to 
offer the ideal system. It was essentially a task force organization, as far as 
the air units themselves were concerned, which would go into action when 

8 Hist Sec, CDC, Organization, Development and Reorganization, p. 13; Hist Sec, CDC, Army 
and Navy Boundaries of CDC, pp. 11-12. 

9 Hq CDC, GO 8, 29 May 41, in Hist Sec, CDC, Organization, Development and Reorganiza- 
tion, app. B. 


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alerted by the elaborate ground warning network. Ideally, as the air forces 
saw it, the antiaircraft artillery would be closely tied in with the interceptor 
forces, and the whole would be commanded by the air commander. 

General Marshall, in a personal letter to General Van Voorhis on 4 
January, referred to the question of co-ordinating the air forces as being 
"exceedingly important" and requiring 'very special treatment/* He had 
sent General Andrews to Panama, General Marshall wrote, so that "a very 
competent man" would be available for this purpose; and "as soon as the 
new air units begin to arrive in the Caribbean region/' he continued, "the 
matter of coordination of air affairs will demand immediate treatment." 10 
But then General Marshall went on to say that he felt that current plans 
provided for too many air units to be accumulated on permanent station in 
the Caribbean, since air units could be deployed rapidly when needed, if 
airfields and facilities were available. He suggested that, after the mini- 
mum garrisons were decided upon, air units located in the southeastern 
United States be tagged as reinforcements and that, instead of being sta- 
tioned in the Caribbean, they might make a swing around the region three 
or four times a year. He admitted, however, that "the Staff" in Washington 
did "not seem to agree" with him on this. General Marshall then proceeded 
to discuss command between Army and Navy, in the midst of which he 
added, "but there can be no question but what all of the Air activities must 
be coordinated by a single head." 

General Van Voorhis agreed that for the time being the outpost bases 
in the Antilles should be lightly manned but developed so they could take 
care of reinforcements that might be flown in from the United States. He 
took the position that the Panama Canal air forces "should not go beyond 
the immediate sphere of their operations in . . . defense of the canal, for 
which they were initially provided." And they should not, General Van 
Voorhis continued, "be looked upon by the War Department as constituting 
a force available for operations throughout the theater. 11 He was firm and 
emphatic in his insistence that means had to come before co-ordination. Both 
General Andrews and his predecessor General Dargue had vigorously 
agitated this matter of "coordinating all means available," without explain- 
ing to the satisfaction of General Van Voorhis what the Air Corps meant 
by co-ordination. General Van Voorhis considered it synonymous with com- 
mand, and it seemed to him obvious that the acquisition of means, and 

10 Pers Ltr, Gen Marshall to Gen Van Voorhis, 4 Jan 41, WPD 4440-1. 

11 Ltr, Gen Van Voorhis to Gen Marshall, 10 Jan 41 ; Ltr, Gen Van Voorhis to TAG, 19 Feb 
41. Both in AG 320,2 (1-8-41). 



training, should come first. He pointed out, furthermore, that air defense 
plans for the continental United States could rely upon a comprehensive 
communications network, the lack of which in the Panama-Caribbean area 
militated against the adoption of a similar defense system. When the War 
Department kept urging him to "effect coordination in the Caribbean area" 
by charging General Andrews "with functions . . . corresponding to those 
of the Commanding General, GHQ Air Force in the continental United 
States/' and when, according to General Van Voorhis, the War Department 
questioned the organization of the Panama air defenses before he had 
organized them, General Van Voorhis lost his last shred of patience. He 
could not understand, he wrote, how the War Department could criticize 
something on which he had never even expressed himself officially. 12 A few 
days later, when he announced the organization of the Caribbean Air Force, 
with General Andrews as commanding general, it could be seen that the 
structural details did not markedly differ from those recommended by the 
Air Corps and modeled after the organization in the continental United 
States. 13 

Part, at least, of the War Department's attitude had been inspired by 
letters from General Andrews. On n January, about a month after his ap- 
pointment as commander of the Panama Canal air forces, General Andrews 
submitted a lengthy report to General Van Voorhis in which he recom- 
mended a program for improving the air defenses along lines advocated by 
the Air Corps. Four days later, on 15 January, he wrote to Maj. Gen. George 
H. Brett, Chief of the Air Corps, describing the Panama air defenses as 
"worth little" and the communications system as "lousy." 14 In March he 
wrote to General Marshall criticizing plans for the air warning service in 
Panama and charging that too many nonessential things were being done 
in the name of defense. He set forth his views on the organization of a 
Caribbean air force, including the need for unity of command over local 
naval defenses and the desirability of bases in the Republic of Panama and 
the west coast of Africa. Before General Marshall could dispatch a reply, 
another letter from General Andrews arrived reiterating the latter's dissatis- 
faction with the slow progress he had made in "selling" General Van Voor- 

12 Ltr, Gen Marshall to Gen Van Voorhis, 5 Mar 41; Memo, WPD for CofS, 1 Apr 41; Ltr 
(drafted in WPD), Gen Marshall to Gen Van Voorhis, 9 Apr 41. All in WPD 4440-5. Ltr, Gen 
Van Voorhis to Gen Marshall, 12 Mar 41, AG 320.2 (1-8-41) ; 1st Ind, CG PCD to TAG, 
7 May 41, on TAG Ltr, 28 Apr 41, AG 320.2 (4-15-41). 

13 Hq CDC GO 2, 8 May 41; Hq Caribbean Air Force GO 1, 9 May 41. Both in AG 320.2 
(1-8-41). Ltr, Gen Marshall to Gen Van Voorhis, 12 Jun 41, WPD 4270-8. 

14 USAF Hist Study 42, Air Def of the Panama Canal, pp. 128-31. 



his his ideas on the organization and operation of a Caribbean air force. He 
attributed this fact to his failure to gain the complete confidence of General 
Van Voorhis. 15 But only a few weeks later the Caribbean Air Force was 
organized as a "task force, complete within itself, capable of independent 
action, and commanded only by air officers/' 16 

The next step in giving effect to the task force-defense command idea 
was to authorize GHQ to act as a command headquarters. This was done 
early in July. Given command of the Army garrisons in Greenland, 
Bermuda, and Newfoundland, GHQ sought to have the Caribbean Defense 
Command similarly "activated/' because from the GHQ point of view the 
command situation within the Caribbean theater was "unsatisfactory . . . 
as regards training, supply and administration/' 17 Two weeks after GHQ 
reopened the question of command in the Caribbean, orders were issued for 
General Van Voorhis to take over command of the Fifth Corps Area. His 
successor was General Andrews. 18 

The Alert of July 194 1 

Although the command was now organized along theater lines, the 
safety of the Panama Canal was still the chief concern. 19 Rumors and fears 
of a Japanese attempt against the Canal had developed at the beginning of 
July when affairs in che Far East began to edge toward a crisis. The Navy 
Department 's bulletin to the President on 3 July reported the probability of 
a Japanese move against Russia "about 20 July" and the face that the Japa- 
nese Government was beginning to divert shipping out of the Atlantic. One 
shipping company, it was stated, had ordered its vessels to be west of the 
Panama Canal by 25 July regardless of passengers or cargo; another had in- 
structed its ships to discharge all their cargo at west coast ports. Among 
numerous other memorabilia, the bulletin further reported the following: 
"Possible torpedo attack on Panama Canal between 1st and 15th of July is 
reported from a reliable source . . . /' 20 This information was sent to the 
War Department at once and was immediately relayed to General Van 

15 Pers Ltr, Gen Andrews to Gen Marshall, 12 Mar 41; Pers Ltr, Gen Andrews to Gen 
Marshall, 5 Apr 41. Both in AG 320.2 (1-8-41). 

10 USAF Hist Study 42, Air Def of the Panama Canal, p. 187. 

17 Memo, GHQ for CofS WD, 25 Jul 41, referred to in Memo, DCofS GHQ for G-3 WD, 
12 Aug 41, GHQ G-3 fiIe,.Corresp from CDC. 

18 Memo, DCofS Bryden for TAG, 7 Aug 41, OCS 20241-192. 

19 The question of a supply organization for the Caribbean area was not yet resolved. On this 
matter, see below, [pT 402. | 

20 Navy Dept, Bulletin to the President, 3 Jul 41, Pearl Harbor Attack, pt. 20, pp. 4352-53. 



Voorhis as follows: "Report from questionable source indicates torpedo at- 
tack on Canal between July i and 15." 21 In Washington, much more signifi- 
cance was attached to the news of Japanese shipping diversions. General 
Van Voorhis was directed to take added measures of protection against 
sabotage and to tighten up the surveillance of ships in transit. He was to 
delay all Japanese ships, ostensibly for the purpose of searching them, until 
he received further instructions from the War Department. 22 General Van 
Voorhis tended to discount much of what had been reported. Japanese ship 
movements were normal, he radioed Washington, and in fact on 3 July a 
large Japanese freighter had passed through the Canal into the Atlantic, 
bound for Baltimore. As for a torpedo attack, he had been given a similar 
report by the military attache at Bogota, and it was clear he did not put 
much stock in it. However, he immediately placed a series of defensive 
measures into effect. War channels through the mine fields at both ends of 
the Canal were put in use instead of the usual straight channels; antisub- 
marine and torpedo nets were placed in operation in front of the locks; and 
a vigilant guard was maintained. The only unusual activity was a concen- 
tration of small boats on the Pacific side of the Isthmus, possibly fishing 
craft, reported General Van Voorhis, and in order to maintain surveillance 
over them he requested that he be provided with two high-powered speed 
boats. 23 Meanwhile, someone in Washington had figured out that Japa- 
nese shipping movements were scheduled so as to place one or more vessels 
in the Canal each day during the period 16-22 July. Although the War De- 
partment was unaware of its purpose, the schedule looked definitely suspi- 
cious and countermeasures were considered imperative. The result was that 
General Marshall and Secretary Stimson decided to restrict Canal traffic for 
an indefinite period "for the purpose of effecting repairs/' What this 
amounted to was an exclusion of Japanese shipping; all other vessels were 
permitted to pass through. 24 When the Japanese Ambassador inquired about 
the seeming discrimination, he received a very noncommittal reply from 
Acting Secretary of State Welles, who had been informed by the War De- 
partment of- its intentions and who was in complete accord with them. 25 
Several of the vessels that had aroused the suspicions of G-2, and a number 

21 Rad, WD to Gen Van Voorhis, 3 Jul 41, OPD Exec 4, bk. 5- 

22 Ibid; Diary of Brig Gen Leonard T. Gerow, entry for 3 Jul 41, OPD Exec 10, item 1. 

23 Rad, CG to PCD to CofS, 4 Jul 41, OPD Exec 4, bk. 5. 

24 Min, War Council Mtg, 7 Jul 41, SW Conf, binder 1; Memos, WPD for TAG, 9 and 10 
Jul 41, sub: Restrictions on Traffic, Panama Canal, WPD 3730-22. 

25 Memo by Acting Secy State, 18 Jul 41, in U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of 
the, United States, Japan, 1931-1941, 2 vols. (Washington, 1943), H, 263-64. 



of other Japanese ships, arrived at Cristobal during the next few days, but, 
when the ban was continued, they were rerouted either via Capetown or by 
way of Cape Horn. By 22 July no Japanese vessels remained at the Canal 
Zone. 26 The few ships that had been inspected in United States ports had 
proved to be free of any threat. Before the month ended, the Japanese move 
into Indochina provided a clue to the activity that had aroused American 
suspicions, and the subsequent freezing of Japanese funds in the United 
States brought a cessation of trade between the two countries that made the 
Canal restrictions superfluous. 

The Outposts in the Dutch West Indies 

The strategic importance of the Caribbean area itself had meanwhile in- 
creased. Among other basic commodities, American shipping was now 
carrying two million tons of bauxite per year from Surinam to the United 
States. This represented 60 or 65 percent of the American aluminum in- 
dustry's total supply, and any threat to the mines or the sea lanes would 
imperil American production. On 18 August, in the midst of its Iceland 
preparations and Brazil and Azores planning, GHQ was instructed to pre- 
pare plans for the relief of the British troops in Aruba and Curasao and 
for the establishment of an American garrison in Surinam. As in the case 
of all plans involving the forces or territory of another country, there were 
certain complications. Diplomatic discussions aimed at clarifying the status 
of the Dutch colonies were in progress and made a military reconnaissance 
impractical. Furthermore, the protection of the bauxite mines had been 
taken under study by a joint Anglo-American staff committee. Brazil, too, 
came into the picture when Mr. Jefferson Caffery, the American Ambassa- 
dor, informed the State Department that Brazil might be willing to join in 
the defense of Surinam. Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles favored 
Brazilian participation on the ground that it might lead the way to Brazilian 
permission for the establishment of American defense forces in northeast 
Brazil. A final complication was President Roosevelt's desire to postpone 
any action until he could discuss the subject with Queen Wilhelmina of the 
Netherlands, who was expected to visit the United States later in the sum- 
mer, 27 

26 Memo, Lt Col Le Count H. Slocum, WPD, for Gen Gerow, 23 Jul 41, and related papers, 
WPD 3730-23. 

27 Entry of 18 Aug 41, GHQ 314.81 Diary; Memo, Lt Col Matthew B. Ridgway for Gen 
Gerow, 26 Aug 41, sub: Conf with Mr. Welles re Dutch Guiana; Note for Red, Col Ridgway, 
27 Aug 41, on Memo, ASW McCloy for Gen Miles, 26 Aug 41. Last two in WPD 4580. 



The War Plans Division took the position that any force sent to Surinam 
should have a broader mission than guarding the bauxite mines. Instead of 
merely a guard company, the force, according to the chief of the Plans 
Group, should be "adequate to the task of (i) maintaining United States 
authority, (2) protecting our vital interests, . . . and (3) upholding the 
prestige and dignity of our armed services/' 28 The result was a recommenda- 
tion by the War Plans Division, approved by General Marshall on 29 August, 
that a reinforced infantry battalion be immediately sent to Trinidad, where it 
would be held in readiness to move into Surinam. Brig. Gen. Leonard T. 
Gerow, head of the War Plans Division, went to Hyde Park on 31 August to 
present the situation to the President, who had just learned that Queen Wil- 
helmina's visit was to be postponed. A convenient opportunity to press for 
Dutch permission to send a force to Surinam offered itself on this same day, 
when the Governor of the colony, alarmed at reports that a German cruiser 
was in the vicinity, appealed to British authorities in Trinidad for aid. Brig. 
Gen. Ralph Talbot, Jr., commanding the American troops in Trinidad, re- 
quested authority to send 20,000 rounds of .30 caliber ammunition to the 
local Dutch forces in Surinam. The War Department at first granted the re- 
quest but later in the day rescinded its authorization in favor of organizing 
a special force to be sent to Surinam. Force A, as it was designated, consisted 
of three composite companies of the 33d Infantry, a bomber squadron, and 
three platoons of Coast Artillery. It totaled 990 officers and enlisted men. 
On 9 September, just a week after the first steps had been taken to organize 
it, Force A sailed from the Canal Zone to Trinidad. There it stayed, await- 
ing the signal to proceed, until 25 November. 29 

Although the Dutch Government had agreed in principle to accept 
American aid, the negotiations were protracted, and the departure of Force 
A from Trinidad was delayed by the pressure of other matters of higher 
priority to the State Department and by the need of arranging details of the 
Brazilian participation. Reluctant to admit Brazilian troops into Surinam 
since the aid of Venezuela had not been sought for Curasao and Aruba, the 
Netherlands Government proposed as a solution to invite Brazil to send a 

28 Covering Memo of Lt Col Lee S. Gerow, 29 Aug 41, on Memo, Maj Edward H. McDaniel 
for Col Gerow, 28 Aug 41, WP D4580-1. 

29 Informal Memo, Gen Gerow, WPD, 29 Aug 41, WPD 4580-1; Gerow Diary, entries of 
29 Aug and 31 Aug 41, OPD Exec 10, item 1; Memo, WPD for CofS, 2 S£p 41, quoting rads: 
Talbot to G-2, 31 Aug 41, CofS to CG Trinidad, 1 Sep 41, and WD to CG CDC, 1 Sep 41, 
WPD 4580-8; Memo, W.B.S. [Col Walter B. Smith, SGS] for SW, 16 Sep 41, OCS Conf File 
(9-21-41) ; Trinidad Base Command, Hist Sec, CDC, MS, History of Trinidad Sector and Base 
Command (hereafter cited as TBC, Hist Sec, CDC, Hist of TS and BC), I, 123-25. 



military mission to Surinam for the purpose of co-ordinating defense meas- 
ures and discussing the security of their common boundary. This formula 
was accepted by the Brazilian Government, and the War Department began 
making arrangements to send the troops about 9 November. But because of 
dissidence on the part of one or two members of the Netherlands Cabinet, 
the start of the operation was delayed another two weeks. 30 On 25 Novem- 
ber a headquarters party flew into Surinam, and three days later the first 
echelon of the force arrived off the harbor of Paramaribo. On 3 December 
1941 the remainder of the ground troops landed, and on 8 December the 
air unit arrived with three B-18's and seven P-40 fighter planes. 

The dispatch of troops to Aruba and Curasao seems to have been a less 
urgent matter, although it had been under consideration fully as long as the 
Surinam operation. In the Anglo-American staff conversations early in 1941 
(the ABC meetings) it had been agreed that, if and when the United States 
entered the war, American forces would relieve the British garrisons in Ice- 
land and in Aruba and Curasao. During the summer the first American 
troops had gone to Iceland. But it was not until February 1942, after the 
United States had entered the war, that American troops arrived at the Dutch 
islands. Until then, two British infantry battalions (one on each island) 
provided security for the oil refineries and port installations. Seacoast de- 
fenses consisted of three 7.5-inch guns on each island, manned by Dutch 
troops. During September, October, and November both GHQ and the War 
Plans Division made studies of the troop requirements, but there was ap- 
parently no intention of sending the troops immediately. The original cal- 
culation of 1,433 officers and men, which approximated the British strength 
on the two islands, was increased in the course of the three months of plan- 
ning to 2,434 men > which was more than the combined British-Dutch forces. 
But the matter was still hanging fire when the attack on Pearl Harbor 
came. 31 

Securing the Pacific Approaches 

During 1941, while the Caribbean theater was being organized, the Pa- 
cific approaches to the Canal were likewise being secured. Before the year 

30 Memo, WPD for CofS, 19 Sep 41, WPD 4580-20; Rads, Ambassador Anthony J. Drexel 
Biddle, Jr., to State Dept, 25 Sep and 6 Nov 41, OPD Exec 8, bk. A; Rad, Ambassador Biddle to 
Secy State, 10 Oct 41; Rad, TAG to CG CDC, 25 Oct 41. Last two in AG 370.5 (8-7-41). 

31 GHQ Staff Confs, 9 Sep and n Sep 41, GHQ 337 Staff Confs, binder 1; Memo, WPD for 
TAG, 23 Sep 41; Memo, Lt Col George P. Hays, G-3 GHQ for CofS GHQ, 10 Sep 41, and 
related papers. Last two in WPD 4577-2. Ltr, William Joseph Donovan to Under Secy Navy 
James V. Forrestal, 23 Oct 41; Memo (not used), WPD for CofS, 31 Oct 41, sub: Minimum 
Requirements for Def of Curasao and Aruba. Last two in WPD 4577-3. 


was out, permission to build bases in the Galapagos Islands had been ob- 
tained from the government of Ecuador, negotiations for similar bases at 
Salinas, Ecuador, and Talara, Peru, were under way, and a squadron of 
Army bombers had begun operating from airfields in Guatemala. Thus a 
semicircle of defense similar to that provided by the Antilles was constructed 
in the Pacific. 

The question of acquiring bases on the Galapagos Islands had made 
one of its periodic appearances at the beginning of the year. At that time 
the War Plans Division had taken the position that nothing should be done 
unless the President expressly directed it and unless an outright lease was 
obtained from the government of Ecuador. If these conditions were met, the 
War Plans Division agreed that assistance should be offered the Ecuador 
air force in return for use of a base in the Galapagos Islands. 32 During the 
following weeks reports filtered in from South America that the government 
of Ecuador would not be averse to ceding a base on the islands to the United 
States. 3 ^ At this point, in the spring of 1941, the question was still considered 
primarily a matter for the Navy Department to act upon, just as it had been 
three years earlier. Although definitely related to the defense of Panama, a 
base in the Galapagos fell within the Navy's responsibility for offshore 
patrol. The Army was officially concerned only to the extent that the base 
would have to be defended. 

Meanwhile, the question was being approached at a more oblique angle 
than naval or military, or even diplomatic, channels permitted. President 
Roosevelt knew the Galapagos Islands and recognized their strategic im- 
portance; but he was also alive to the undesirable repercussions that would 
follow any attempt of the United States to establish a base there. He made 
various proposals aimed at setting up some sort of collective protectorate 
over the islands, but nothing came of them. More promising were the activi- 
ties of the Pacific Development Company. This was a corporation organized 
and headed by a retired naval officer and chartered in Delaware for the pur- 
pose of developing a concession on the largest of the Galapagos Islands. 
Having received a sweeping grant of authority from the Ecuadoran Govern- 
ment and a large loan from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the 
Pacific Development Company entered into negotiations with the private 
owner of the island. President Roosevelt, who had been introduced to the 
project by his naval aide, Capt. Daniel J. Callaghan, apparently intended to 

32 Memo, WPD for G-2, 31 Jan 41, WPD 3782-10. 

33 Ltr, Military Attache, Quito, to Col Harris, G-2, 26 Mar 41; Memo, Col Ridgway for 
Chief, PJans Sec, WPD, 3 Apr 41. Both in WPD 4225-11- 



use the company much as the Pan American Airways Corporation was being 
employed in the airport development program. The Navy Department, 
somewhat to the annoyance of Admiral Stark, thus had to deal with the 
Pacific Development Company for the facilities it desired. 34 Then a hitch 
occurred. The man with whom the development company was negotiating 
owned only 10 percent of the necessary property, it now transpired, so that 
the lease for most of the land would have to be obtained from the Ecuadoran 
Government. At about the same time an account of the Pacific Develop- 
ment Company and its activities appeared in the column of a Washington 
journalist. Although the story was far from complete, it nevertheless served 
to draw aside the curtain of secrecy that was essential to the success of the 
company's negotiations. 35 

While the matter of acquiring the land and providing the physical plant 
had been occupying the attention of the Pacific Development Company, the 
business of obtaining permission to make use of the islands and the territor- 
ial waters of Ecuador had been the subject of independent and direct nego- 
tiation between the State and Navy Departments on the one hand and the 
Ecuadoran Government on the other. More progress was made in this 
respect than by the development company. Before the company's negotia- 
tions reached a standstill, the Navy obtained permission to use the Galapa- 
gos Islands as a patrol base. The State Department thereupon began negoti- 
ating a formal agreement providing for the establishment of naval facilities 
and installations on the islands and a base on the mainland as well, in the 
vicinity of Salinas. Colonel Ridgway of the War Plans Division was in- 
formed of these developments by Capt. W. O. Spears, USN, on 16 October, 
during discussion of an Army staff study recommending that the War De- 
partment take active steps to acquire Aircraft Warning Service and land- 
plane bases in the Galapagos. This study, advocating what was for the War 
Department a reversal of policy, had been drawn up in the War Plans 
Division and submitted to Captain Spears for comment. Now, informing 
Colonel Ridgway of the progress made in the negotiations for naval bases, 
Captain Spears offered the opinion that the Navy Department would be 
'Very reluctant to consent to the diversion of any more materials . . . re- 

34 Notes made by Lt Col Paul McD. Robinett, Min, SLC Mtgs, 21 May and 21 Apr 41. Both 
in SLC Min, II, items 20 and 26. Tab C (Article from Washington Times-Herald, September 19, 
1941) and Tab D (General Information on Galapagos), Memo, Maj McDaniel, WPD, for Col 
Gerow, 3 Oct 41, WPD 3782-11. 

35 Min, SLC Mtg, 29 Oct 41, SLC Min, II item 35; Drew Pearson and Robert Sharon Allen 
in Washington Times-Herald, Oct 26, 1941. 



quired by the establishment of additional bases." The naval bases, he 
thought, would suffice. 36 

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor intensified Ecuadoran fears for the 
safety of the islands and put an end to earlier objections by the State Depart- 
ment that a base agreement with Ecuador might offend Peru. Less than a 
week after the attack, an advance unit of the Navy's base force was on its 
way to the Galapagos on a British steamer. 37 The War Department on 20 
December informed Under Secretary of State Welles that it desired to ob- 
tain from Ecuador "the right to construct landing fields on those islands at 
U.S. expense and to station necessary defensive forces there for protection of 
the fields. Without the latter, it does not wish the former." 38 At a meeting 
of the Standing Liaison Committee, later the same day, Mr. Welles voiced 
his assurance that, in view of previous statements by the government of 
Ecuador, the War Department could proceed with its plans before the sign- 
ing of a formal agreement, which was expected to take place the following 
week. A similar request by the War Department with respect to Peruvian 
airfields would, according to Mr. Welles, have to await the reply of the 
Peruvian Government. 39 Although Talara, Peru, had apparently been pre- 
ferred by War Department planners as the southern terminus of the patrol 
arc, when no reply came from the Peruvian Government, the War Depart- 
ment switched to Salinas, Ecuador, which had already been designated as 
the site of the naval patrol base. 40 The first Army planes reached Salinas on 
16 January 1942, when a flight of heavy bombers (four B-iy's) arrived 
from Panama. 41 Toward the end of the month construction of a joint Army- 
Navy base at the Salinas airfield was begun. In the Galapagos everything 
started from scratch, since there were no existing facilities, as there were at 

36 Note for Red, M.B.R. (Col Ridgway), 16 Oct 41; Memo, Maj McDaniel for Col Gerow, 
3 Oct 41; Memo, Col Gerow for Gen Gerow, 8 Oct 41. All in WPD 3782-11. 

37 U.S Dept of the Navy, Bureau of Yards and Docks. Building the Navy's Bases in World- 
War II, II, 37. Hist Sec, CDC, MS, Procurement, Occupation and Use of Air Bases in the 
Galapagos Islands and at Salinas (hereafter cited as Hist Sec, CDC, Air Bases in the Galapagos), 
P- 23- 

38 Memo, CofS for Under Secy State, 20 Dec 41, AG 601. 1 (10-4-39). 

39 Min, SLC Mtg, 20 Dec 41, SLC Min, II item 40. 

40 The greater interest in Talara was the result not of its more strategic location for the defense 
of the Panama Canal but because of its important petroleum installations, which were totally 
undefended and which were a source of fuel for the Chilean copper industry. See Rad 105, GHQ 
to CG CDC, 16 Dec 41, WPD 4380-8. It should be noted that a reinforced Coast Artillery battery 
was stationed at Talara in March 1942 and by September an American air base was in operation; 
but by July 1943 the American air units and ground garrison were withdrawn. 

41 It is of interest that in sending detachments of the Caribbean Air Force to operate from and 
defend outlying bases, General Andrews was doing what he had cautioned against as a subordinate 
of General Van Voorhis. 



Salinas, that could be used until the base was completed. As a result it was 
early May before the first Army combat unit reached the islands and began 
operations. 42 

Thanks to the airport development program carried out by Pan Amer- 
ican Airways and to the prompt co-operation of the Guatemalan Govern- 
ment, air facilities at the northern end of the patrol arc were usable several 
weeks before operations began at the Salinas airfield. Throughout 1941 con- 
struction work on two existing airfields in Guatemala — one at Guatemala 
City and the other at San Jose — had been under way. The idea had been to 
have the fields available so that, if the Guatemalan Government should re- 
quest the support of American arms against aggression by a non- American 
power, help would be forthcoming quickly; but during 1941 the question 
was raised whether it might not be advisable to send security and communi- 
cations detachments to the airfields immediately. GHQ and the Caribbean 
Defense Command seem to have been inclined toward sending the detach- 
ments; the War Plans Division of the General Staff and the State Depart- 
ment appear to have been opposed. There had been no decision on the mat- 
ter when the Japanese attacked Hawaii. 43 

A week after the attack the American Charge d'Affaires at Guatemala 
City transmitted to the Guatemalan Foreign Minister a note requesting per- 
mission for American military planes to fly over and land on Guatemalan 
territory without formal notification through diplomatic channels, to make 
whatever photographs might be necessary for tactical or navigational pur- 
poses, and to make use of Guatemalan airports and their facilities. Permis- 
sion was also sought to station a bombardment squadron of 700 men and 
10 planes at San Jose and small service detachments at both fields. On 16 
December, the day following the receipt of the American request, the Guate- 
malan Government signified its consent, and on 25 December General 
Andrews notified GHQ that six B-i8's were operating out of Guatemala 
City, which had been chosen for the main base. The bulk of the force, in- 
cluding a reinforced infantry platoon, arrived in Guatemala on 7 January 
1942 and brought the strength up to about 425 officers and men. 44 

42 Air Bases in the Galapagos, pp. 43-44. 

43 Memo, WPD for TAG, 2 Dec 41, WPD 4413-4; Hist Sec, CDC, MS, History of Procure- 
ment, Occupation and Use of Air Bases in Guatemala (hereafter cited as Hist Sec, CDC, Air 
Bases in Guatemala), p. 12. For a discussion of the Pan American Airways airport development 
program, see Conn and Fairchild, Framework of Hemisphere Defense, ch. X. 

44 Rads, CG CDC to GHQ, 25 Dec 41 and 5 Jan 42, WPD 4372-10; Hist Sec, CDC, Air Bases 
in Guatemala, pp. 14-17. 



Expansion in the Republic of Panama 

When the question of developing a base in the Galapagos and of build- 
ing up an outer ring of defense around the Pacific approaches to the Canal 
had been raised, in January 1941, the inner defenses were still concentrated 
in the Canal Zone, Negotiations with the Panamanian Government for de- 
fense sites outside the Zone had reached a standstill. In the year and a half 
since the ratification of the Panama treaty, the number of defense sites of 
one sort or another that the Army wanted to acquire in the Republic of 
Panama had risen from ten or so to more than seventy-five. The principal 
reasons for the delay in the negotiations were the term of the leasehold and 
the question of jurisdiction. A new administration which had taken office in 
Panama was inclined to^grant a lease for such bases only for the duration of 
the emergency, while the United States desired to negotiate a long-term 
lease with an option to renewal, using the Rio Hato lease as a model. On 
the question of jurisdiction, the United States took the position that for the 
period of the lease it should have exclusive jurisdiction and police authority 
over all persons within the leased areas/ 5 In London, at this same time, the 
commissioners who were negotiating a base agreement with the British 
Government were facing a similar situation. 

With General Van Voorhis urging the War Department to press for a 
settlement, and with General Marshall voicing his concern over the air 
forces being "entrapped in the Canal Zone," Secretary Stimson laid the mat- 
ter before the President and Cabinet at a meeting on 9 January. 46 President 
Roosevelt, informed of the danger in having all the Panama Air Force 
planes crowded together on three small airfields, directed Secretary of State 
Hull to take a stronger stand with the Panamanian Government* 7 The 
result was a new tack. Instead of continuing what promised to be endless 
negotiations, the State Department informed the Panamanian Government 
that further discussion would be of no value until the lands in question were 
actually occupied. This had been the procedure with respect to the base sites 
acquired from Britain in the destroyer-base exchange, when it was agreed 
not to let the discussion of controversial questions delay the acquisition of 
the base sites. The Panamanian Government expressed its willingness to 

45 Memo, Col Harold F, Loomis for ACofS WPD, 3 Jan 41, WPD 2674-31 ; Memo, WPD for 
CofS, 24 Mar 41, WPD 2674-36. 

46 The quotation is from notes on General Marshall's remarks at the Standing Liaison Com- 
mittee meeting on 3 January 1941 (SLC Min, II, item 1). See also, Ltr, Gen Van Voorhis to 
CofS, 3 Jan 41, WPD 2674-31. 

47 Stimson Diary, entry of 9 Jan 41. 



permit the military authorities to occupy the various defense areas and to 
begin construction pending the conclusion of a formal agreement. A joint 
board was to be set up for arranging details of the transfer. Although Gen- 
eral Van Voorhis was reluctant to take over any sites unless he could do it 
unconditionally and with full authority, a decision to go ahead was made 
on 24 March. During the following week instructions to this effect were 
sent to General Van Voorhis and the American Ambassador in Panama, 
and a schedule of dates for taking over the sites, which General Van 
Voorhis had drawn up, was given to the Panamanian Government. 48 By 12 
April 8 of the 12 airfield sites that had been considered necessary were taken 
over and occupied, and two of the seven AWS stations had been transferred 
but not occupied. During the next five weeks 1 or 2 additional landing field 
sites were acquired, and apparently no request was made for the transfer of 
any other sites. To the State Department, which all along had been urged to 
make haste in obtaining an agreement with Panama, it seemed that now an 
agreement had been reached the War Department was dragging its heels. 
However, an exchange of messages with General Van Voorhis convinced 
the War Plans Division that "every effort" was being made "to take over 
and occupy defense sites expeditiously. 49 By the end of 1941 about 40 
defense sites had been occupied by American troops, and eventually the 
number rose to more than a hundred. A lack of roads and other facilities 
rather than any procrastination on the part of the Army or the Panamanian 
Government made the process slower at times than it might have been. 

The procedure by which defense sites were acquired had been worked 
out by July 1941. It consisted of a preliminary study and consideration of 
each site by a joint Panamanian-United States Army board. If the site met 
with the approval of the board and the Panamanian Government raised no 
objections, the Army would move in and begin developing the place. While 
this was going forward, surveys and the assessment of damages were being 
carried out under the general supervision of a second joint board that was 
responsible for giving final, formal approval to the transfer. The system had 
apparently been functioning smoothly for some time, when President Arnulfo 

48 Min, SLC Mtg, 24 Mar 41, SLC Min, II, item 13; Rad, State Dept to Amer Ambassador, 
Panama, 31 Mar 41, WPD 2674-37. A brief of the aide-memoire from the Panamanian Govt, 
5 Mar 41, and letter of transmittal, Ambassador William Dawson to the Secretary of State, 
5 Mar 41, are in OCS Conf, binder 11. See also, Min, SLC Mtg, 4 Feb 41, SLC Min, II, item 5 ; and 
Memo, Col Orlando Ward for CofS, 10 Jan 41, OCS Conf, binder 8. 

49 The quotation is from Memo, WPD for CofS, 9 Jun 41, WPD 2674-41. See also, Rad 
1093, Gen Van Voorhis to TAG, 12 Apr 41, WPD 2674-34; Min, SLC Mtg, 21 May 41, SLC 
Min, II, item 26; and Memo, Col Robinett for CofS, 21 Apr 41, SLC Min, II, item 19. 



Arias of Panama was suddenly thrust out of office. With the President went 
the Panamanian members of both joint boards, and in the confusion the 
records disappeared. By the time new members were appointed and new 
records compiled, circumstances seemed to require a change in procedure. 50 
Except for the entry of the United States into the war, the change most 
pregnant with consequences was the signing of the formal agreement on 
defense bases, which took place on 18 May 1942. Although progress had 
been made in actually acquiring the sites, a formal agreement setting forth 
the rights and privileges to be enjoyed by the United States had been avoided 
by the Arias regime. Negotiations had continued during the summer and 
early fall without much progress being made. At the end of September the 
draft of an agreement, which offered no substantial concessions to the Pana- 
manian point of view, was sent to the American Ambassador for submission 
to the Panamanian Government on 8 October, the very day on which the 
Arias government was overthrown. The draft reached General Andrews' 
headquarters on 1 November, but by then it was becoming clear that the 
new Panamanian administration could not retreat far from the position 
taken by the Arias government. 51 Discussions, counterproposals, and more 
study finally produced on 27 March 1942 a second draft that incorporated 
certain compromises. This draft formed the basis of the approved agreement 
signed in Panama on 18 May. As finally accepted, the agreement was to 
terminate within one year after "the definitive treaty of peace" was signed, 
and if the situation at that time was such as to require the continued occupancy 
of any of the defense bases, a new agreement would be concluded. The 
United States was given exclusive and full jurisdiction over its own civilian 
and military personnel within the leased areas and the right to arrest, try, 
and punish anyone committing crimes against the safety of the installations, 
except that Panamanian citizens arrested on any charge had to be turned 
over to Panamanian authorities for trial and punishment. For all lands leased 
as defense sites the United States agreed to pay to private owners an annual 
rental of $50.00 a hectare and for public lands $1.00 a year for all of them 
except the Rio Hato area, for which the annual rental was to be $10,000. 
The United States also agreed to assume the expense of completing the Pina- 
Rio Providencia highway and the Madden Dam bypass into Panama City. 

50 Hist Div, CDC, Hist of Caribbean Theater, II, 337, 339; AG Hist Sec, PCD, Hist of PCD, 
III, 91; CDC PCD, Acquisition of Land, pp. 58, 67, 70-71. 

51 Langer and Gleason, The Undeclared War, pp. 613-15 ; A. R. Wright, "Defense Sites Nego- 
tiations Between the United States and Panama," The Department of State Bulletin, XXVII, 685 
(Aug 11, 1952), pp. 216-17- 



One-third of the annual maintenance cost of all highways used frequently 
by American forces would be carried by the United States. 52 

Simultaneously with the signing of the lease agreement in Panama, an 
exchange of notes took place in Washington between Secretary Hull and 
the Panamanian Ambassador. Ever since January 1941 the Panamanian 
Government had insisted on certain concessions, twelve in number, as con- 
ditions of a lease agreement, but the United States Government had objected 
to a conditional lease agreement, and at least one of the provisions was con- 
sidered by the War Department to be detrimental to the security of the 
Canal. The result of the negotiations conducted by the State Department 
was a separate agreement embodying the twelve concessions, which was 
signed on the same day as the lease agreement but independently of it. 53 

As a result of the two agreements a new procedure for acquiring defense 
sites came into being. Since the lease agreement authorized occupancy and 
specified the sites to be occupied, there was no longer need for both of the 
joint land boards. The Panamanian Foreign Minister therefore proposed, 
soon after the lease agreement was signed, that a new procedure for trans- 
ferring the lands be adopted. The second of the two land boards was accord- 
ingly abolished, and its supervisory and survey functions were transferred 
to the other board. 54 

Strength and Readiness of the Defenses, 1941 

One of the reasons why additional base sites were necessary was the rapid 
increase in the Panama garrison in the last three months of 1940. During this 
period the strength had risen from about 21,500 officers and men to ap- 
proximately 28,000, an increase of slightly more than 30 percent. During 
most of the following year, 1941, there was only a gradual rise. In January 
the garrison stood at about 28,700; in November it totaled approximately 
31,400. This was where it stood at the end of the month when the situation 
in the Pacific began to cloud over. 

Since midsummer of 1941 the harbor defense troops, the Aircraft Warn- 

52 The text of the agreement is in Caribbean Defense Command, Panama Canal Dept, MS, 
Acquisition of Land, Appendix A. 

53 The terms of the general agreement have been published as Executive Agreement Series 452, 
State Department Publication 2431. The article by A. R. Wright, cited note 51 above, describes 
the negotiations. 

54 Details of the procedure are described in Caribbean Defense Command, Panama Canal 
Dept, MS, Acquisition of Land, pp. 91-95. 



ing Service stations, and the antiaircraft defenses of the Panama Canal had 
been on a continuous round-the-clock alert. Locks and other sensitive areas 
were under constant guard against sabotage. Transit guards were being 
placed on all vessels passing through the Canal. The bomber command and 
some of the pursuit squadrons were on a 24-hour alert. Plans had been 
worked out for Army support of "the various naval commanders in the 
Caribbean Theater." In the Fifteenth Naval District, which included the 
waters immediately near Panama, the Navy was conducting a continuous 
surface patrol supplemented, to the extent the availability of planes per- 
mitted, by an air patrol. 55 These measures were fully reported by General 
Andrews to the War Department in response to a warning sent to the com- 
manding generals on the west coast and in the Philippines, Hawaii, and 
Panama on 27 November. The only additional measure that General 
Andrews considered it necessary to take was to increase inspections in order 
to insure the alertness of the troops. 50 

He did, however, call to the attention of the War Department certain 
deficiencies in the defenses of the Canal. In General Andrews' opinion, the 
commandant of the naval district did not have enough planes or vessels un- 
der his control to conduct an adequate reconnaissance. The Aircraft Warning 
Service in the Caribbean theater, he reported, was totally inadequate in per- 
sonnel to supervise the installation of detectors on hand as well as to man 
the equipment when installed. Only two detectors were installed and in 
operation in the Panama Canal Department. The harbor defenses had less 
than one complete manning detail available. The antiaircraft artillery had 
insufficient personnel to man the armament being installed in the Canal Zone 
and only enough ammunition for one minute of fire per gun for the 37-mm. 
guns. There were no barrage balloons. The Caribbean Air Force, General 
Andrews continued, was totally lacking in night pursuit planes and in very- 
high-frequency radio equipment with which to direct pursuit in air. Only 
eight modern long-range bombers and twelve modern light bombers were 
available, and there were no 37-mm. cannons for the P-39's. 'The situations 
in Puerto Rico and the Base Commands are so new, and their major deficien- 
cies so well known," General Andrews wrote, "that no attempt has been 
made to enumerate them." 57 

55 Ltr, Gen Andrews to TAG, 29 Nov 41, GHQ 381 CDC, binder 1. The phrase quoted 
above is from this letter also. 

56 Ibid. On other reactions to the 27 November warning, see above jchs. IV| and |VIl| 

57 Ibid, 



There had been little change in the size of the Puerto Rican garrison in 
1941 since April, when heavy selective service inductions and large reinforce- 
ments had pushed the strength up to slightly more than 21,000 officers and 
enlisted men. This was an increase of about 60 percent over the December 
1940 strength of 13,280 men and was almost exactly what the Panama gar- 
rison had been only seven months earlier. After the April augmentation the 
Puerto Rican garrison remained between 20,000 and 22,000 until March 
1942, three months after the United States entered the war. Most of the 
troops were stationed at three posts: Borinquen Field, at the far northwest- 
ern point of the island; Camp Tortuguero, about twenty miles west of San 
Juan; and Fort Buchanan, midway between Camp Tortuguero and San Juan. 
Perhaps 66 percent of the total garrison was made up of native Puerto 
Ricans, distributed among the 65th Infantry and the several National Guard 
units that had been inducted on 15 October 1940. 58 About 6,000 troops of 
the garrison belonged to the air component, the 13th Composite Wing. This 
was the striking force of the Puerto Rican coastal frontier. It was equipped, 
at the end of 1941, with twenty-one medium bombers and ninety-two pursuit 
planes. 59 

In addition to the Panama and Puerto Rican garrisons there were ap- 
proximately 4,800 men in the new bases acquired from the British — in 
Jamaica, Antigua, St. Lucia, Trinidad, and British Guiana — and in Surinam. 
The largest of the outlying garrisons was the one in Trinidad, which totaled 
about 2,000 men. 

Thus, when the Japanese attack on Hawaii came, there were nearly 
58,000 troops on guard in the Canal Zone, in the Republic of Panama, and 
along the vast arc that stretched from Surinam, north along the Antilles 
screen, to the Yucatan Channel. 60 Their mission was not simply to keep the 
Canal open but to defend the entire area. It was a task shared with the Navy. 

58 CDC, Preliminary Study of Garrisons of the Puerto Rican Dept, pt. II, p. 7 ; Hist Div, 
Antilles Dept, CDC, The Puerto Rican Induction Program and the Use of Puerto Rican Troops, 
pp. 18, 23-24. 

59 OPD Weekly Status Maps, AG 061 (9-4-45); CDC, Preliminary Study of Garrisons of 
the Puerto Rican Dept, pt. II, p. 2. 

60 The above figures are the officially accepted figures, from the Table, Tentative Strength of 
the Army Based on Progress Reports as of Dec. 7, 1941, which was compiled some time afterward by 
The Adjutant General's Office, Miscellaneous Division, Returns Section, a copy of which is in 
GHQ Secret Papers, binder 1. A summary of the reports received by GHQ from the several 
commands during the week of 2-9 Dec 1941 gives the following: Jamaica-876 officers and men; 
Antigua-309; St. Lucia-351; British Guiana-557; Trinidad-2945. The Surinam force of approxi- 
mately 900 men is perhaps included in the Trinidad strength. Total strength of the Caribbean 
Defense Command is shown as 58,487. The foregoing summary is in Memo, DCofS GHQ for 
CG FF, 10 Dec 41, GHQ Theater Studies file, Policy bk. 



Naval Factors in Area Defense 

The officially promulgated doctrine of joint Army and Navy action speci- 
fied the administrative machinery by which the joint defense of an area like 
the Caribbean was to be organized. When this doctrine had been last revised, 
in 1935, the only areas for which a joint organization had been provided 
were the eastern seaboard, the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific coast, and the 
Great Lakes region, each of which was designated a coastal frontier. Al- 
though originally nothing more than a geographical expression, the name 
coastal frontier by 1941 had also come to mean the organizations by which 
the local naval commanders co-ordinated their activities with those of the 
appropriate Army commanders and by which operational command was ex- 
ercised over the forces of two or more component naval districts. 61 

The obvious necessity of extending local naval defense beyond the exist- 
ing limits of the Tenth Naval District (Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) 
and the Fifteenth (the Panama Canal Zone and adjacent waters) and the 
need of co-ordinating activities with the Army on a broader basis than that 
afforded by the naval districts led Admiral Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, 
to propose the addition of two new coastal frontiers to the four already pro- 
vided in Joint Action of the Army and the Navy. He suggested that a Carib- 
bean coastal frontier be organized to include the southernmost of the 
Bahamas, the eastern half of Cuba and all the rest of the Antilles, and the 
northeastern coast of South America between Colombia and Brazil; and 
that a Panama coastal frontier be organized which would include both the 
Caribbean and the Pacific coasts of Central America, both coasts of Colom- 
bia, and the coast of Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands, Cocos, and all the 
other islands off the Pacific coast were to be included also. This much of 
Admiral Stark's proposal was far from revolutionary. The Army-Navy Joint 
Planning Committee, then engaged in revising the Rainbow 5 plan, accepted 
the two coastal frontiers as geographical definitions, and the Navy organized 
them as naval commands. 

As part of his proposal, Admiral Stark had further recommended that 
each of the coastal frontiers be a unified command: the Caribbean to be 
under command of a naval officer, since it was primarily a naval strategic 
area; and the Panama Coastal Frontier to be an Army command, since the 
chief concern of forces there was the defense of the Canal. This ran counter 
to the single-theater point of view being developed by the Army, and, accord- 

61 Joint Action, ch. V; Office of Naval History, MS, The Development of the Naval Districts, 
1903-45, PP. 31-39. 



ing to General Andrews, it ignored the primary defense problems of the 
area, namely, the problem of air defense. If the Navy proposals were accepted, 
two Army air forces would be required in the Caribbean area, he predicted, 
and the organizations for maintenance, supply, and communications would 
become complicated and duplicating. The proposal, General Andrews com- 
mented, assumed that the two major threats were from the west and the east 
and overlooked the likelihood of an attack from the south along the Trini- 
dad-Panama line. 62 For the all-around defense of the area against any threat 
from any direction, the existing organization, namely, the Caribbean Defense 
Command, was sound and logical, General Andrews contended. He "agreed 
in principle with the desire of the Chief of Naval Operations to achieve a 
unity of command, but he believed that the method proposed was foreign to 
the problem at hand. . . 63 His conclusion was therefore that "naval support 
must be regarded as an adjunct to the existing army organization and should 
pass to army control when assigned or requested'* and also that the naval 
districts in the Caribbean area should be so organized and commanded as "to 
permit coordination of naval supporting forces by the Caribbean Defense 
Commander through the principle of unity of command." 64 The situation 
offered some proof that when an irresistible force meets an immovable object 
the result could be a transmutation of both into gaseous nebulae. 

Seeking to improve the defense of the Panama Canal, the Army had 
extended the defense system and organized it so as to embrace the whole 
Caribbean area. This area itself thereupon became an object of special 
attention on the part of the Army, although it was predominantly a water 
area. Viewed strictly as a matter of defending an area, the problem was 
how to disinfect that area completely and who should do it. A task of this 
type had not been the Navy's principal interest since the days of Thomas 
Jefferson. On the other hand, the protection of shipping, by means of con- 
voys and the destruction of enemy sea power wherever encountered, was 
one of the primary missions of the Navy. Viewed as a sea lane along which 
American shipping had to be protected, the Caribbean was principally a naval 
strategic area, although the Army believed that within the boundaries of the 
area the task of protecting shipping could be done equally well by the 
Army's long-range bombers and patrol planes. Regardless of these considera- 

62 Hist Sec, CDQ Organization, Development and Reorganization, pp. 54-57; CDC, MS, 
Developments Regarding Unity of Command in the Caribbean Area, OCMH, (hereafter cited as 
CDC, Unity of Command), pp. 24-25; Ltr, Gen Andrews to Gen Marshall, 14 Oct 41, AG 580 

63 Hist Sec, Unity of Comd, p. 12. 

64 Hist Sec, CDC, Organization, Development and Reorganization, p. 58. 



tions the Caribbean side of the Isthmus gave Army authorities in the Canal 
Zone less concern than the exposed position on the Pacific side. In Panama, 
only a bare beginning had been made to provide the eventual bases for air 
coverage over the Salinas-Galapagos-Guatemala patrol arc. In order to fill 
the gaps in the arc, additional airdromes at Tehuantepec, Mexico, and Talara, 
Peru, were considered desirable; but, except for limited improvements to the 
existing field at Talara, which the Peruvian Government had been per- 
suaded to undertake and which were started in the late fall of 1941, nothing 
had been done to establish these additional bases by the time the United 
States was drawn into the war. 65 In contrast, the defensive screen in the 
Caribbean had been tightened by the acquisition of the new base sites in 
British territory. Whereas the Army commanders in Panama had repeatedly, 
but without avail, urged the extension of the defenses in the Pacific, the 
authorities in Washington were more interested in developing and fortifying 
the new Caribbean bases. This interest stemmed in part from considerations 
other than the direct defense of the Canal. 

Hist Sec, CDC, MS, Procurement, Occupation and Use of Peruvian Bases, OCMH, pp. 9-10. 


The New Bases Acquired 
for Old Destroyers 

During the 1930*5 the occupation by the United States of European pos- 
sessions in the Western Hemisphere had become a favorite political tom-tom 
for Anglophobes and isolationists. Generally presented in the guise of a 
necessity for national defense, the several proposals of this nature were invari- 
ably stripped of their pretensions by the War Department, which, as late as 
April 1940, insisted that the potential military value of the European colonies 
remaining in the New World was not sufficient to justify their acquisition by 
the United States. But the rapid advance of German armies through northern 
France completely changed the perspective in which the strategic value of 
Atlantic bases had hitherto been viewed. What had been laid aside, in April, 
as of no pressing military importance had become, a few months later, a 
part of the basic plan for hemisphere defense. And yet, to take over the 
European colonies in America would have been to acquire also a host of 
unwanted problems. All the military advantages of such a step, without most 
of the liabilities, were gained on 2 September 1940 as a result of the history- 
making Destroyer-Base Agreement, by which the United States acquired from 
Great Britain the right to lease naval and air base sites in Newfoundland, 
Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua, Trinidad, and British 
Guiana for a period of ninety-nine years. 1 

Not much preparation had been made for the problems of construction, 
defense, and administration or for the action and reaction of the local setting 
— physical, political, economic, and social — upon the new tasks that sud- 
denly confronted the War Department. 

1 For a discussion of the critical turn of events that shaped American strategic plans in the 
summer of 1940 and of the negotiations leading to the Destroyer-Base Agreement, see Conn and 
Fairchild, Framework of Hemisphere Defense, ch. II, and Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning 
1941-42, chs. I— II. 



The Local Setting 

The bare facts of geography were known or easily accessible to Army 
planners. Foremost were the fifty degrees of latitude, with all the consequent 
differences of climate and geography, that separated Newfoundland in the 
north from British Guiana in the south. One of the more obvious facts was 
the size of Newfoundland. With an area of 42,734 square miles, it was one 
of the larger islands of the world, larger than Iceland or Ireland or any of 
the Philippines, and about the same size as Cuba. Any plan had to take into 
account its rugged, fog-swept coasts, the bleak tundra-like plateau dotted with 
numberless ponds and lakes that made up the interior of the island, and the 
lack of communications. The only link between the coasts was a narrow- 
gauge railroad that snaked north and eastward from Port-aux-Basques on the 
Cabot Strait through the wilderness past the few, small settlements in the 
interior to the Newfoundland airport at Gander Lake and then down to 
Argentia and St. John's on the Avalon Peninsula. Here the climate is only 
somewhat colder and slightly wetter than that of northeastern Maine, and 
the harbor at St. John's, the capital and only fair-sized city on the island, is 
generally free of ice. 

At the other extreme were British Guiana and Trinidad, where rain and 
heat and tropic humidity took the place of Newfoundland's snow, cold, and 
fog. Trinidad, it was observed, had a more uniform climate than most of the 
other islands of the Antilles, because it lay directly in the track of the 
moderating northeast trade winds, but even so there was considerable varia- 
tion. The western coast, where the majority of the people live, is the leeward 
side, and as a result Port of Spain — the capital city — and all the towns facing 
the Gulf of Paria become unpleasantly hot during the long wet season. 
Seasonal variations are more pronounced on the other Caribbean islands and 
in the coastal lowlands of British Guiana, where, when the trade winds shift 
in August and September, the heat becomes oppressive. In Jamaica, the 
largest of the British West Indies, regional variation is the rule. Between 
the coast and the mountainous interior of Jamaica the temperature range 
drops twenty degrees and the average rainfall increases from about thirty- 
three inches on the coast to as much as two hundred inches a year in the 

In contrast, prewar Bermuda had long been a delightful vacation haven 
for many Americans. And in particular contrast to Newfoundland, where 
streams and lakes make up one-third of the area, tiny Bermuda had no 
source of fresh water other than rainfall. A fishhook-shaped cluster of low- 



lying islands and islets connected by causeways and bridges and with a total 
land area of only twenty square miles, Bermuda is the world's nothernmost 
coral atoll. It has the mild, equable climate characteristic of Atlantic islands 
in the middle latitudes. Except for an occasional wayward hurricane that 
strikes with severe force, the tropical storms that blow north from the West 
Indies generally pass by. From the Royal Naval Station on the point of the 
fishhook, a railroad equipped for only the lightest traffic curved around the 
Great Sound through Hamilton, the capital, and then proceeded along the 
length of the islands to St. George on the eastern tip. A long-standing pro- 
hibition against automobiles gave, in 1940, an anachronistic shape to trans- 
portation. Roads and lanes were narrow and sharply curved, adequate only 
for the carts and bicycles for which they were intended. 

In Bermuda, as well as in the Caribbean colonies, the white inhabitants 
were only a minority of the total population. Some 30,000 people, only one- 
third of whom were white, made up Bermuda's permanent population in 
1940. In most of the Caribbean colonies the white inhabitants were an even 
smaller fraction of the whole. Jamaica, with about a million and a quarter 
inhabitants, had a white population of only about 15,000. Possibly a third of 
the people of Trinidad, and a somewhat larger part of those in British 
Guiana, were of Asiatic extraction. Their turbans and jangling bracelets, the 
Hindu temples, and Mohammedan mosques added an oriental atmosphere 
to Port of Spain and to San Fernando, the principal port for the Trinidad 
oil fields. Local dialects made a complicated language pattern. In the country 
districts of Trinidad and St. Lucia, a French patois was still in use. Everywhere 
among the masses illiteracy was high. 

The extent of self-government varied from colony to colony; in all of 
them, popular participation was extremely limited. Newfoundland, which 
had enjoyed dominion rank after the first World War, had fallen into 
financial difficulties and relinquished its status in 1933. After that date, a 
governor and commission appointed by the British Government had exercised 
all the powers formerly held by the Colonial Assembly. Among the islanders, 
some dissatisfaction with the arrangement could be found. Both in New- 
foundland and Canada there were those who believed that the island's prob- 
lems were a matter of Canadian, and not primarily of British, concern. Ber- 
muda, British Guiana, and the four West Indian islands were crown colonies. 
Of these, only Bermuda had a local legislature that was chosen completely by 
ballot. In fact, Bermuda's House of Assembly, dating back to 1620, was the 
oldest English legislature outside Britain itself. The legislative councils of 
the five other crown colonies were only in part elected by popular vote. In 



all the crown colonies, even in Bermuda, property qualifications restricted 
the franchise to a very small segment of the total population. The Governor, 
as the sole and personal representative of the King, dominated the govern- 
ment. His was the voice of authority. In him was centered complete respon- 
sibility for the government, and bearing the title Captain-General or Com- 
mander-in-Chief, he had certain, rather ill-defined responsibilities for the 
defense of the colony. 

During the 1930's, a blend of economic distress, political discontent, and 
racial animosity had produced a bitter brew of strikes and riots throughout 
the Caribbean area. By 1940 a militant labor movement with definite political 
aims had taken shape. But, except in Jamaica, where a new constitution 
was granted in 1943, the coming of the war temporarily blocked the political 
aspirations of the people. In Trinidad and British Guiana local elections were 
suspended for the duration of hostilities, and one of the Negro leaders in 
Trinidad, Uriah Butler, was arbitrarily interned because he had taken a 
prominent part in the 1937 riots. 

In August 1940, local defense forces in all eight colonies were extremely 
weak. In the Bahamas, British Guiana, Antigua, and St. Lucia they were non- 
existent. In Trinidad, some two hundred lightly armed volunteers stood 
guard over the oil fields. A few small coast defense guns partially covered 
the northern approaches to the Gulf of Paria. The southern entrance to the 
gulf was undefended. In Jamaica, a battalion of Canadian infantry, with a 
strength of about 680 men, was stationed in Kingston, and four coast 
artillery guns, manned by native troops, guarded Kingston Harbor. Bermuda 
was defended by one British infantry company and two artillery batteries 
composed of militia. In Newfoundland, the defense of which had been 
assumed by Canada, there were, in addition to the local militia, a flight of 
RCAF bombers and a battalion of Canadian infantry. By the end of 1940 
reinforcements had raised the strength of the Canadian garrison to about 
a thousand men at the Gander airfield and to about four hundred at St. John's. 
Although Newfoundland was thus better guarded than any of the other 
colonies, its defenses were weak in heavy antiaircraft and coast artillery 
guns. 2 It was clear that in all the colonies, including Newfoundland, part 
of the burden of local defense would fall